Issue 58

EU gives another 5 million euro to support vocational education and training in Armenia

Yerevan, 21 June, 2011

EU Delegation in Armenia

In June 2011, the European Commission released EUR 5 million from the AP 2009 Sector Policy Programme in support of vocational education and training (VET) in Armenia. The expected outcome is an overall modernisation of VET, which would have a direct positive impact on the labour market and employment in the country. The initiative is part of long term EU efforts to boost reform on VET in Armenia.

The European Union has been actively supporting reforms in education in Armenia over the last 8 years with a clear focus on Vocational Education and Training (VET). Shortly after Armenia joined the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2006, the Government of Armenia and the European Commission have agreed to focus the 2007 Budget Support assistance of the European Union to Armenia on further reforms of the VET sector.

The overall objective of AP2009 Sector Policy Programme “Continuation of vocational education and training (VET) reform and development of an employment strategy” is to continue to provide support through increasing the quality of VET sector in order to make it more relevant to the needs of the labour market and of the individuals.

Key elements of the government sector programme as defined in the VET MPP Action Plan covering the years from 2009-2011, are the following: (i) introduction of competency based vocational education, (ii) modernisation of quality monitoring mechanisms, (iii) creation of technical support and quality assurance infrastructure, (iv) improvement of cost efficiency and educational outcomes, (v) optimisation of VET financing, (vi) building of national capacity for VET modernisation, implementation and monitoring.

Key results of the programme are: 1) Improved governance of VET reforms; 2) Increased importance of employment strategies; 3) Improved conditions for delivery of VET; 4) More efficient VET system in line with requirements of Labour Market; 5) Improved targeting of active employment measures.

The programme has an overall budget of € 15M, out of which € 1M is earmarked for the Technical Assistance component. The € 14M component of budget support is implemented against satisfactory fulfilment of policy conditions identified and agreed upon by the Commission and the Government of Armenia. Instalments are payable to the Armenian State budget subject to fulfilment of policy conditions. The first fixed tranche of € 5M was released to the state budget in June 2011 upon fulfilment of General Conditions and one specific pre-condition, as well as signature of Financing Agreement in November 2010. Disbursement of Second and Third tranches of € 4M and € 5M respectively is expected in first semesters of FY 2012 and 2013 upon fulfilment of Specific Conditions attached to each tranche.

Main implementing partners under this Programme are the Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy as well as social partners.

A Social Dialogue Platform will be established

17 June 2011

The Steering Committee of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum would like to actively encourage the engagement of independent and democratic social partners (trade unions, employers’ organisations) in the EU and the Eastern Partnership countries in the structures of the Civil Society Forum – in line with the initial Civil Society Forum Concept Paper that states: “The EESC and its equivalents in partner countries should play a key role, especially regarding business, employment, labour and social issues.” 

During a meeting in Brussels with representatives of EaP CSF Steering Committee on 5 May 2011, the EESC itself put forward a proposal that the EESC should have 12 reserved delegates in the Civil Society Forum, and that the EESC should be able to appoint three reserved EESC representatives to the Steering Committee. The EESC proposal did not address the representation of the social partners from the Eastern Partnership countries, and the Steering Committee considers this issue to be indispensable to the inclusion of social partners in the Civil Society Forum.

Therefore, the Steering Committee has decided to recommend to the delegates to the Civil Society Forum for consideration (at national platform meetings and thematic working group meetings, then by email voting among those who attended the 2010 CSF event) the following proposal to come into effect at the Poznan Civil Society Forum meeting on 28-30 November 2011:

– A Social Dialogue Platform will be established comprising both Eastern Partnership participants and EU participants to the annual Civil Society Forum meeting. The platform’s members will participate fully in the Forum through the national platforms and thematic working groups but will also have their own working format and agenda with respect to social rights and social dialogue.

– The Steering Committee will, in consultation with the EESC, draw up and publish a definition of independent and democratic social partners and criteria for their selection as delegates to the Civil Society Forum. The inclusion at the annual Civil Society Forum meeting of independent social partners from both Eastern Partnership countries and from the EU will be actively encouraged through the national platforms and through solicitation of recommendations from the EESC in recognition of the key role of the EESC, especially regarding business, employment, labour and social issues.

– The EESC will be invited to select the social partners from the applications that meet the criteria.

– A minimum of 20 independent and democratic social partners will be selected as delegates to the annual Civil Society Forum meeting, of which at least 12 should be from the Eastern Partnership countries (a minimum of two from each country – in the event that there are fewer than two eligible applicants from one of the countries, the Steering Committee will consult with the corresponding national platform to identify additional independent and democratic social partners).

– The EU social partners that comply with the definition of independent social partners will be invited to indicate if they are members of the EESC or of any other international association, and are entitled to apply as either an individual organisation or as EESC.

– The independent and democratic social partners selected as delegates will be full delegates eligible on the same basis as all other Civil Society Forum delegates for election as working group co-ordinators, national platform co-ordinators, or EU co-ordinators.

– Those independent social partners selected as delegates to the annual Civil Society Forum meeting will meet at the annual meeting as members of the Social Dialogue Platform to elect two members of the Steering Committee – one from the EU and one from the Eastern Partnership countries. These two positions will increase the size of the Steering Committee from 17 to 19.

– The Social Dialogue Platform will engage actively with the EESC on all matters of common interest, and the two Steering Committee members from the social partners will become the key interlocutors between the Civil Society Forum and the EESC.  

The Steering Committee recognises the importance of engaging with independent and democratic social partners in the EU and in the Eastern Partnership countries, and is committed to working with the EESC to make an extensive outreach to strengthen the inclusion of independent and democratic social partners in the national platforms, working groups, and the whole civil society forum – so that representatives of the social partners can play a full part in the Civil Society Forum. 

The Steering Committee welcomes joint projects/initiatives that might be proposed by the EESC or the Civil Society Forum Social Dialogue Platform, and believes that such co-operation based on mutual respect should serve as the basis for future co-operation.

A meeting of the Armenian participants of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum

A meeting of the Armenian participants of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum took place on June 17, 2011. Among other issues, the issue of inclusion of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) into the Civil Society Forum and, further, into the Steering Committee was included in the agenda.

The meeting participants discussed the advantages and disadvantages of the inclusion of EESC. It was later decided that the comments and recommendations from all Armenian members of CSF will be gathered, summarized and the final decision should be sent to the Steering Committee before its next session.

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