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Vocational education is one which prepares individuals to work in the trades, craft, as technicians or in support roles within various professions (engineering, medicine, architecture, law, etc.). The goal of a vocational education system is to produce a critical workforce for business in a country. Therefore, vocational education is a field

which offers long-term results for a country along its path to development.

In Georgia, the perceived lack of prestige in vocational education, the low level of awareness of vocational training among potential students, the absence of possibilities to learn certain professions, the need for a sophisticated professional qualification system, the non-existence of a quality assurance system in vocational education and various other problems in regard to the accessibility of vocational education has prompted a real necessity for implementing reforms. To this end the Parliament of Georgia adopted a Law on Vocational Education

on 23 April 2007. This law represented the first step forward in order to solve the significant problems within the vocational education system.

Vocational education facilities in Georgia are divided into two categories:  1) vocational college – a vocational education facility which provides only the first of the three levels of vocational education programmes and 2) community college – a vocational education facility which provides general education or/and liberal arts education programmes alongside professional education programmes. A community college is also able to offer a Georgian language education programme as a part of its vocational training. In addition, vocational education programmes can also be provided in secondary and higher education establishments as stipulated by the Law on Vocational Education.

Currently, there are 67 community-vocational colleges in Georgia. Of these, 17 are authorised state community-vocational colleges, six are colleges funded with government participation and 44 are authorised private vocational-community colleges. In regard to secondary education establishments, seven private and one state establishments provide vocational education whilst there are 16 private and 15 state universities that deliver vocational education programmes at the tertiary education level. In total, a student can get vocational education in 106 establishments throughout Georgia. Of this amount, 67 are private and 39 are state-owned.

Of unfortunate note is that vocational education is not very popular in Georgia. The number of students being admitted to vocational schools declines almost every year. The number of students admitted to vocational schools in 2017 decreased as compared to 2016. In addition, the number of students admitted to both public and private vocational schools has been dropping every year since 2013. There were 12,449 students enrolled in state vocational schools and 6,566 students enrolled in private vocational schools in 2012. These figures dropped to 11,533 and 4,613, respectively, in 2017 (see Table 1 and Table 2).

Table 1:

 Enrollment in State Vocational Education Schools in Terms of Type and Status of School (2013-2017)

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Secondary Education 0 0 0 21 20
Vocational 4,369 4,083 4,106 4,197 4,082
Community 6,842 4,767 5,078 5,122 5,600
TertiaryEducation 1,288 1,368 1,998 2,489 1,831
Total 12,499 10,218 11,182 11,829 11,533
Table 2: Enrollment of Student in Private Vocational Education Schools Based on Status and Type of School (2013-2017)
  2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Secondary Education 149 101 97 151 52
Vocational 911 631 522 386 391
Community 4,555 3,664 3,226 3,080 3,202
Tertiary Education 951 547 774 894 968
Total 6,566 4,943 4,619 4,511 4,613

As indicated in Table 2, the decreased number of students is especially obvious in the case of private vocational education schools which is primarily stipulated by the funding rule. Private vocational education schools are not part of the state voucher system whilst there are not enough places in state vocational education schools to meet the market demands. Private vocational education schools do not get any state funding which undermines their competitiveness. In fact, both private and state colleges operate on the market with identical education programmes but the majority of students naturally tend to apply to state colleges because the state provides funding to study there. In addition, private vocational colleges are in competition not only with state vocational colleges but with other secondary and tertiary education institutions as well which are authorised by the law to provide vocational education programmes at their will.

Another important trend is also of note. There is a huge disproportion between those wanting to study in higher education establishments and those going to vocational schools. For instance, vocational schools admitted 16,416 applicants in total in 2017 whilst 28,026 students enrolled

in higher education establishments in the same year. The disproportion was 32 percentage points (66% v. 34%) in 2017, 28 percentage points (64% v. 36%) in 2016, 2015 and 2014 and 18 percentage points in 2013 (59% v. 41%) (see Diagram 1).

Diagram 1:

Ratio of Students Enrolled in Tertiary Education Establishments and Vocational Schools (2013-2017)

dia

In regard to employment statistics of graduates of vocational schools, the employment figure (%) has been increasing since 2013 with growth fluctuating within 2-3 percentage points. The highest growth in employment was registered in 2016 when the employment figure increased by 6% as compared to 2015 and reached 56%. Despite this trend of growth, the employment figures for vocational school graduates are still very low – nearly half of all graduates are unemployed. On the one hand, the poor quality of the existing programmes could be one reason behind this and, on the other hand, it could be stipulated by the lack

of available jobs in the country.

Table 3:

Vocational School Graduate Employment Statistics in 2014-2017

Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Figure (%) 38.9% 42% 47% 56% 56.2%
Source: Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport

In 2015, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia commissioned a research study on the labour market demand which was carried out by BCG LTD. As a result of data generalisation, BCG found out that a total of 908,374 people are employed in 63,387 organisations throughout the country. Of this amount, the largest number of these organisations (32,486) is located in Tbilisi which means that the capital has the highest number (497,135) of employed persons. The research also illustrated that of those employed, most (49%) are individuals with a tertiary level education and who possess relevant professional competencies. In terms of the minimum qualification level demand, individuals with a secondary education (31.09%) constitute the second largest group of those employed which indicates the abundance of low-skilled jobs. Of note is the scarcity of positions where individuals with a vocational education (14.7%) are employed. In accordance with the qualitative research study of the labour market demand component, the demand for individuals with a vocational education on the labour market is very low.

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