Addressing Social Inclusion through Vocational Education and Training Project

Dec 2, 2013

Dear Deputy Ministers Mara and Kospiri,
Dear Astrid, Colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a real pleasure to be addressing this meeting on a subject that is very important for Albania and the United Nations. This is the final event of the two year project Addressing Social Inclusion through the Vocational Education and Training – implemented jointly by UNDP and ILO with the support of the Austrian Development Cooperation.

Education, training, and employment represent central dimensions of social exclusion. These are interlinked, as limited access to educational and training services affects employability. Unemployment does not relate only to poor living conditions and inability to afford material goods, services and housing, but in itself it inhibits people’s ability to fully participate in society, build social networks and realize their potential.

Beyond individual benefits, vocational learning is commonly viewed as having two purposes: increasing economic competitiveness and increasing social inclusion and cohesion. I am pleased to note the attention that the government is paying to the VET reform – by looking at the education and training as a whole and transferring the VET institutions to the Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth. I would particularly like to commend the active role of Deputy Minister Sula in this process as an indicator of a strong commitment for bringing the system up to speed with the needs of the labour market.  

The VET system has to endow workers with the right mix of skills and competences, as addressing - and why not preventing skill shortages – will enable the country to achieve its full growth potential. To fulfil their role, institutions must improve the quality of VET provision, their guidance and counseling services, training facilities, as well as feature a stronger connection with the private sector.

In addition, VET providing institutions will have to reach out to people of all ages and social backgrounds. This is exactly the rationale why this project was formulated. Some of the outputs that are being showcased today will hopefully provide an added value to the current government reform in the sector.

Through the help of national and international expertise – the project team was able to look into the processes that affect the access of vulnerable groups to the VET system. As already documented, vulnerable groups in the country are of a diverse nature and include various categories – disadvantaged youth and women, Roma and Egyptians, people with disability.

Their identification, documentation of social and economic backgrounds and needs, relies on a variety of statistical tools and requires the concerted effort from both central and local institutions. At the same time, certain capacities and technical expertise is necessary from the VET providers to meet the particular needs of these groups in a pro-active away.

The experience of this project shows that an appropriate system of data collection – regularly updated at the local level, is the prerogative for informed VET capabilities in targeting these particular groups. Understandably, the task is not an easy one. However, certain opportunities lay ahead, namely the VET reform and the broader reform of territorial division. Our work and experience as well as other partners’ can serve to influence these important reforms so the needs of vulnerable groups are fully taken into consideration.

Ladies and gentleman,

I would like to use this opportunity to mention the particular attention that the team has paid to gender mainstreaming in this project. A thorough screening of project outputs and deliverables took place highlighting how the project results have addressed issues of gender equality. The main message from this work is that there is a need for a paradigm shift from the mapping of vulnerable groups in general to the gender-sensitive analysis of access barriers and identification of drivers of inclusion, followed by the development, costing, and financing of respective social inclusion measures – including those in the VET system.

Thank you very much and I wish you a productive meeting!

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