On June 15, representatives from the World Bank, UNICEF, and ISET gathered to analyze challenges and achievements in Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Georgia, as a part of the Education Policy Forum. The event was opened by Ozan Sevimli (the World Bank Program Coordinator for the South Caucasus), Ms. Laila Omar Gad (UNICEF's Representative to Georgia), Eric Livny (President of ISET), and Ketevan Natriashvili (Deputy Minister of Education).
Mr. Sevimli argued that the economic competitiveness of the country is very much dependent on the skills and competencies of its workforce, which come up as one of the key bottlenecks in economic growth and poverty elimination in Georgia. Furthermore, he claimed that these problems are very much dependent on the education system in the country. In particular, vocational training is a very crucial element enhancing economic productivity in the country, and Mr. Sevimli emphasized that there has been a lot of work done in the vocational education sector in terms of admission exams, and some involvement from the private sector. However, he noted that 'Georgia is not there yet' and highlighted two main problems: firstly, the private sector is far away from the exchange that needs to happen between skills and what is needed in the labor market. Secondly, vocational education does not enjoy a particularly positive reputation in Georgia; it is perceived as being for those unable to achieve in academia. For her part, Ms. Natriashvili acknowledged the problems mentioned by Mr. Sevimli.
The event was followed by a presentation from Mr. Florian Biermann, entitled “Vocational Education and Training in Georgia: Achievements, Challenges, and Way Forward”. Mr. Biermann claimed that a country needs both holders of higher education and vocational degrees. Moreover, countries that have a well-developed vocational education system face lower youth unemployment. He suggested several ways of improving vocational education in Georgia: “Concentrate on the important subjects, check the outcomes, not the inputs, and install “artificial” dual systems!”
The event was concluded by a panel discussion with representatives of employers, the government, and a vocational student, and was moderated by ISET President Eric Livny. Mr. Livny once again pointed out the importance of changing the mindsets of young people towards vocational education. The latter can be done, as suggested by Mr. Livny and Irine Tserodze, Head of Vocational Education Development Department, by getting leading businesses involved.