Professional education reforms miss target
27 March, 2014
Professional education reforms miss target
The ongoing reform in the sphere of vocational education and training fell much behind the expectation, as 70% of alumni cannot find a job according to their qualification. This is the message sent by the State Audit Service of Georgia in its report on Professional Education in Georgia-Current Reforms and Challenges.
General Auditor of the State Audit Office, Lasha Tordia, and representatives of Performance Audit Department presented the results of the report on 18 March. Representatives of Ministry of Education
and Science, professional colleges, civil sector, media and international organizations attended the presentation event which discussed future challenges of the professional education system.
To overcome the problem of unemployment in the country and upgrade the skills of the labor force, the Georgian government reformed the Vocational Education and Training (VET), also known as professional education, five years ago. Around GEL 60 million from the state budget was spent during this period on the VET reforms, including the construction of new colleges and rehabilitation of the existing ones. The demand for these VET centers was high, as 22 500 students were registered during 2011-2012. To check how effectively these resources were disposed, the SAO decided to study results of the reforms during 2010-2012 and in the first half of 2013.
Results of the study range from satisfactory to questionable compromising adequacy of the reforms. The reforms failed to reach the target to eradicate the problem of supply and demand at the labor market where a number of sectors still suffer from a deficit of qualified labor force, whereas other segments cannot handle the surplus. While the state spent GEL 60 million on VET reforms, the Ministry of Education and Science failed to define priority sectors properly. As a consequence, only 23% of its alumni are able to find a job that matches their qualifications.
More than 20% of the students enrolled in VET leave college or are expelled, 33% are employed while one-tenth of this 33% goes into the non-profit sector. What becomes of the remaining 47% is unclear to either the ministry or the colleges.
Finances allocated from the state budget had been increased during 2010-2012 from around GEL 12 million to 25 million, however, without increasing results of the reforms. The study underlines that the credit system is not standardized or unified, which creates a setback of the educational process. Levels of teachers’ professional development lack systemization while access to information is scarce, failing to ensure proper inclusion of the private sector in the educational process.
The student financing system is irrational and sums for the colleges are redistributed randomly. Allocations to different colleges does not meet their real demands and about GEL 2 million that went to financing grants/vouchers are spent ineffectively. Moreover, standards of Georgian VET are superficial and do not fall far under EU standards.
“The state finances the VET colleges to retrain citizens and to employ them eventually. And when we see that 70% of the retrained students are not employed, of course we question the relevance of the planning/management of the process,” Tordia said. “The planning was not properly implemented, there was no research conducted to learn of the needs of municipalities or which professions were in demand. Therefore, we recommend the Ministry of Education to carry out a preliminary assessment to find out which professions are in demand in Georgia and focus on these.”
According to Ketevan Natriashvili, First Deputy Minister of Education, the ministry is open to the SAO recommendations.

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