Credits: UNDP Azerbaijan

As prepared for delivery

10 July 2019

Ganja, VE Centre on Industry and Technologies

Baku, Azerbaijan

HORMETLI NIYAZ MUELLIM –Mr. Niyazi Bayramov, Head of Executive Authority in Ganja

HORMETLI IDRIS MUELLIM –Mr. Idris Isayev, Deputy Minister of Education

Dear Ms. Simona Gatti –Minister Counsellor, Head of Cooperation of the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Azerbaijan

Dear Mr. Parviz Yusifov –Director of State Agency on Vocational Education,

My UN colleagues, ladies and gentlemen

KHANIMLAR VE JENABLAR, SIZI SALAMLAYIRAM! (greetings, ladies and gentlemen)

It is with great pleasure and great honour that I join you here today in this ever beautiful city of Ganja. Thank you for always making me feel at home whenever I travel to this part of the country. Ganja indeed has a special place in my heart!

Thank you, all, for sharing with us the joy of the opening of this stunning new industrial workshop, which we hope will play a critical role in preparing the new generation of skilled tradesmen and women for new exciting careers in fashion design, house repair jobs, welding services, manufacturing services –just to name a few.

This workshop is a product of our joint collaboration with the European Union –with immense gratitude to their generous funding support, and also the result of our longstanding partnership with the Ministry of Education and of course, the State Agency on Vocational Education. In fact, in all our joint work with the EU, we follow the well-known EU slogan of #StrongerTogether.

In Ganja, as many of you already know, we joined forces with all these partners and the EU as our main donor to support the establishment of the Regional Industrial Vocational Education and Training Competence Centre.

This initiative is part of a broader programme on Modernising Vocational Education and Training (VET) Centres we implement in two parts of Azerbaijan –Ganja in the west and Jalilabad in the south of the country, both with financial support from the European Union.

We started this programme echoing the Government’s firm stance to revamp the vocational education system in Azerbaijan and implement a number of substantial reforms to help the vocational education schools train and develop the workforce that is on demand.

When we were starting these initiatives –both here in Ganja and in Jalilabad, less than 11% of graduates in Azerbaijan were enrolled in VET school programmes, compared to 40-60% of graduates in developed countries. Our estimations showed that each year approximately 50-60% of general education graduates entered the labour market without any qualification, being the main reasons for the high unemployment rate and low productivity among youth. 

Tapping on this gap, together with our key Government partners, in this joint programme we put the stress on strengthening the vocational education and development capacity of these two regions of Azerbaijan to reduce the gap between the market demand and industry-specific requirements, on the one hand and the skills supply, on the other hand.

It is with pride that I can state that our joint efforts with the EU and the Government of Azerbaijan within the VET project have already brought first seeds of success and hit several milestones.  

Only in Ganja, the number of students enrolled in the 2018-2019 academic programme at the VET Competence Centre has seen a 9.5% spike in comparison with previous years. What’s most fascinating in this regard is that the enrolment ratio has significantly improved among women constituting now a 20.5% increase as opposed to the enrolment rate among girls in VET schools in previous years.

To this date, we have developed over 50 conceptually new teaching modules for the faculty of the Ganja VET Competence Centre and 6 new curricula for specialties in:

1.     heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems;

2.     apartment turnover and renovation service;

3.     mountain mining jobs;

4.     fashion design;

5.     plastic welding services for the installment and repair of plastic pumps; and

6.     turner’s services to manufacture and assemble metallic components of industrial machinery.

The opening of this new workshop today underlines the importance of vocational education as a critical step to expand the country’s diverse workforce and create a more inclusive labour market.

The concept of quality education is central to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by the UN Member-States during the UN General Assembly in 2015. Specifically targeting inclusive and equitable education, Goal 4: Quality Education promotes lifelong learning experiences for all and highlights the importance of alternative study paths as a critical step in enabling greater employment opportunities in inclusive societies.

This workshop will act as a system, which will support the improvement of individual skills and knowledge acquired through the curriculums and teaching modules developed within the project.

The vocational education and training sector is vital for a modern, diverse economy and is an essential investment for the long-term economic resilience of Azerbaijan. We are proud that the Government see us –both the EU and the UNDP as trusted partners in this highly honourable mission that capitalises on investment in people.

I trust that my colleagues from the EU will join me in saying that both the EU and UNDP will continue to provide all the necessary support to the Government of Azerbaijan to further modernise the vocational education system in the country and to close the skill gap keeping pace with the new demands of labour markets.

In concluding, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations to the people of Ganja and the surrounding regions with this immaculate new workshop facility made available for all of you –from near and far –to expand your professional skills. I wish the best of luck to the first cohort of students and faculty studying and working at this first industrial and technical training workshop. I hope that you will have truly amazing experience with the Ganja Vet School –one to remember for the rest of your life and that your career after this first year will take you to the horizons you never imagined before.

Thank you! CHOKH SAG OLUN!

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