Skills4Jobs: What are the results of the EU-funded programme?
New educational programmes, training courses, employment forums and – most importantly – thousands of previously inexperienced young people, and even some representatives of older generations, who are now retrained and equipped with new skills for the workplace: these are the results of the three-year Skills4Jobs programme implemented by the European Union in Georgia.
The Skills4Jobs Phase 2 programme is being implemented in the country since 2019 and encompasses several domains, including nine grant projects in the regions of Georgia with a total EU contribution of €7 million. The goal of the selected projects is to assist thousands of Georgian citizens to find jobs, by matching their skills to the requirements of the labour market, which is currently a major challenge for Georgia’s competitiveness and economic growth. The projects address this goal in several ways: strengthening quality VET, improving education opportunities and promoting entrepreneurship. The programme covers eight regions of Georgia and focuses on youth, women and vulnerable populations.
Nika Kochishvili, EU Programme Manager, says: “We are talking about vulnerable young people who are neither studying nor employed. In order to ensure such people are able to acquire the necessary skills, we announced a competition to award grant projects. The projects created a number of necessary manuals, short-term certified and numerous informal training courses, both online and offline.”
According to Nika Kochishvili, the projects also helped in establishing connections between employers and job seekers, allowing both to learn about each other’s requirements and needs. Labour market surveys were conducted, employment centres established, and networks created between VET colleges.
The EU-funded projects in the regions of Georgia had different implementers. One of the projects, Local Investments in Networks for Knowledge and Skill-Share (LINKS), was implemented by the United Nations Association of Georgia (UNAG) and the Open Society Georgia Foundation, in close cooperation with other regional partner organizations. According to UNAG representative Teona Lebanidze, the project included various meaningful activities, including entrepreneurship training, English language courses and computer skills training, career counselling, employment forums, etc.
“With EU support, 1,400 young people have improved their knowledge and skills to enable them to be employed easier,” Ms Lebanidze says.
Mother-of-three from Zemo Adjara, Leila Vanadze, a beneficiary of the EU’s Skills4Jobs programme, says: “My life is divided into two parts: before and after the LINKS project.”. Leila is one of thousands of young people who have been retrained, acquiring new skills and becoming a sought-after player in the labour market.
“I took computer skills and English courses, then had a paid internship at the Khulo Public Library. The LINKS project was a great opportunity for me to self-realize and adapt to society,” sheadds.
Along with employment opportunities, the EU’s priorities include promoting SMEs and supporting entrepreneurship, therefore the programme also funded eight business start-ups including that of Nino Gochiashvili – who used this opportunity, firstly undertaking entrepreneurial training and then utilising her newly acquired skills to formulate a business plan for her sewing company, which produces innovative soft toys.
“The EU’s support has been very important and useful for our company, as we delved into smaller details we hadn’t thought about before and we now have a better understanding of what our customers need,” shesays.
Almost 3,900 job seekers benefited from employment promotion centres in the regions, which were established and strengthened under another EU-funded project: Learn, Exercise, Achieve, Receive, Network for Employment! (LEARN for Employment!). The goal of the project was to address the imbalance between supply and demand on the labour market. The project was implemented by the Education Development and Employment Centre (EDEC), in partnership with other partner organizations. Lika Kiladze, Chairman of the EDEC ‘s Board, says that the project has operated in two main directions: it provided career counselling to job seekers and created nine new VET courses in the maritime and tourism sectors, which are in great demand in the labour market today.
The outcomes of the LEARN for Employment! project are impressive as well: 903 job seekers have been employed (504 women and 364 men); 567 people involved in on-the-job training and internship programmes; six (6) employment forums have been organized; cooperation links have been created with 1,150 employers; Career Guidance and Employment Service Centres have been established in Ambrolauri, Ozurgeti and Gori, and strengthened in Batumi, Kutaisi and Telavi.
“In total, the project has covered about 3,900 job seekers: members of our society who previously lacked the skills to present themselves to employers, write their CVs or be interviewed,” adds Lika Kiladze.
In the era of technology, computer skills are in high demand in the labour market. In cooperation with Ilia State University and other partners, the EU has funded another project of the Youth Tech Clubs Network. The project aim is to popularize and promote technological sectors in the regions of Georgia and to develop new technologies to facilitate creation of new products. As a result, 90 secondary schools and 10 vocational schools across Georgia were involved in the project, and training sessions focused on various topics, such as programming, computer graphics, WordPress-based web development, UX/UI design, 3D modelling, technological entrepreneurship etc. have taken place. Currently, the Youth Tech Clubs Network unites more than 1,600 beneficiaries.
For three years, the projects funded under the Skills4Jobs programme have been coordinated and monitored by a special monitoring team. Marine Mizandari, monitoring expert of the Skills4Jobs’ grant component, says that the team visits the regions every six (6) months.
She says: “We held meetings with project partners, stakeholders, young people and representatives of VET schools in the regions to monitor the projects’ implementation process : regular field visits and communication contributed to close interaction and collaboration between nine projects that developed good synergy.”
The EU-funded Skills4Jobs Phase 2 programme is coming to an end. The impact of the programme is already perceptible even though full quantification of the results is not yet possible. The Skills4Jobs programme implementing partners are confident that the projects will have a lasting effect, and that every person, retrained and employed with EU backing, will result in one less migrant worker leaving Georgia in search of opportunities overseas.