Jalilabad, 5 November 2019 – The European Union (EU), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Education and the State Agency on Vocational Education opened a newly reconstructed vocational education workshop in Jalilabad, in continuing their support for the enhancement of vocational education and development capacity in the country. The opening ceremony was attended by the Head of the EU Delegation to Azerbaijan Ambassador Kestutis Jankauskas, Resident Representative for UNDP in Azerbaijan Mr. Alessandro Fracassetti, Deputy Minister of Education Mr. Idris Isayev, Director of the State Agency on Vocational Education Mr. Parviz Yusifov and the Head of the Jalilabad Executive Authority Mr. Namiq Zeynalov.
The newly renovated workshop has been introduced as part of the EU-funded initiative on Modernising Vocational Education and Training (VET) Centres in Azerbaijan. More broadly, this initiative seeks to strengthen capacity building of the local communities by transforming local talent and fostering a knowledge-based economy in the west of Azerbaijan focusing in Ganja and in the south of Azerbaijan, with a focus on Jalilabad. The opening of the modernised workshop facility today specifically aims to support the establishment of the Regional VET Centre of Excellence in the Lankaran Economic Region.
Started first in spring 2018, the project has since considerably strengthened the physical infrastructure, technical foundation, training and operational capacities of the Jalilabad Vocational Lyceum, which has been converted to a modern Regional VET Centre of Excellence in the Lankaran Economic Region.
It is no coincidence that in the profile of the Jalilabad VET Centre, an emphasis is placed on occupations in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors. Established in 1943, the Jalilabad Vocational Lyceum, which forms the foundation of the current VET Centre of Excellence, is one of the oldest vocational education schools in Azerbaijan. While the region itself is notable for its vast crop agriculture and is a leading producer of wheat, grapes, vegetables and fruits in the CIS region, significant shares of investments in Jalilabad and in the whole of the southern region of Azerbaijan are also allocated to the construction and furniture sectors.
To match local capabilities to the demands of the labour market in these areas and to bridge education to employment, UNDP has conducted substantive baseline and market analyses. Their findings suggested the need for creating a number of new fields of study and conceptually new teaching modules and curricula, which could be fundamental in addressing unemployment and the shortage of people with critical job skills experienced in the current labour market.
Today, the Regional VET Centre of Excellence in Jalilabad offers hands-on practices to 440 students enrolled in various programmes at the Centre. Since 2018, over 280 students have been mastering practical workplace skills across six new specialties that have been recently introduced to the VET Centre, thanks to the EU funding. These new specialties include three focus areas within the agricultural science, specifically in farming, crop production, winery and winemaking, as well as three additional specialties in furniture production, such as carpentering, cabinet making, draping and fashion design. These new fields of study have become instrumental in also pushing the gender barriers that are especially strong in the southern regions of Azerbaijan. As a result, for the first time in Jalilabad, 21 young women are now registered in vocational education programmes at the Jalilabad VET Centre of Excellence, with the majority of these students choosing fashion design and 2 women studying crop production specialties.
All in all, the projects in the Lankaran Economic Region and in Ganja have introduced 54 new teaching modules to the faculty of the VET Centre of Excellence in Jalilabad and the VET Competence Centre in Ganja. Only in Jalilabad, this joint initiative has supported the development of six new curricula and 27 teaching modules in agriculture and furniture production.
More than 22 training programmes organized for teachers and course instructors during 2018 and 2019 have resulted in substantial improvement in capacity development and teaching skills of the faculty.
Aiming to adopt a stronger model of the VET system in Azerbaijan, the project reinforces the importance of public-private partnerships and cooperation with local businesses. In line with this commitment, a memorandum of understanding will be signed within this project with a number of private companies, including Guneshli Agro Park, Jalilabad Winery-2, Woodpecker and Embawood to support the graduating students’ further employment opportunities with these firms.
The joint initiative aimed at strengthening and modernising Azerbaijan’s vocational education system is implemented in Ganja and Jalilabad by the UNDP jointly with the Ministry of Education and the State Agency on Vocational Education. The establishment of the Regional VET Centre of Excellence in the Lankaran Economic Region has received funding support worth EUR 1,444,444 from the European Union, with co-financing from the UNDP.
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