Context: The School-to-Work-Transition Survey (SWTS) in Armenia was conducted in two rounds (2012 and 2014) by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the National Statistics Service of Armenia. In 2014, the youth unemployment rate in Armenia stood at 28.0 per cent and was substantially higher for young women (33.3 per cent) than young men (24.2). Furthermore, 31.1 per cent of Armenian youth were not in employment, education or training (NEET) in 2014. The share of NEET among young women was nearly double (38.5 per cent) that among young men (21.7 per cent), a feature largely be explained by the greater number of young women outside the labour force attending to family responsibilities.
The SWTS in Armenia shows a faster transition from school to stable employment for those with university education than for those with secondary education (11.1 months compared to 28.2 months). Moreover, in 2014, some 74.1 per cent of young workers were engaged in paid employment, while 11.2 per cent were own-account workers and 12.5 per cent were unpaid family workers. Regarding the skills mismatch, the SWTS found that 10.1 per cent of the employed youth were undereducated for their job, while 19.6 per cent were overeducated. There were large differences between young working males and females with regard to sector of employment. The services sector employed more young women than men (82.0 and 51.3 per cent, respectively), while for industry and agriculture the figures were 7.7 and 30.0, and 10.4 and 18.7, respectively.
Implementation of programme/ initiative: The Livelihood Improvement through Fostered Employment (LIFE) project targeted youth with disabilities and was implemented between 2012 and 2015 by the international NGO Save the Children. LIFE operated at several levels, from schools to workplaces. At the first level, LIFE conducted meetings with 800 children in the last year of boarding school (14-16 years) with mental, physical and somatic disabilities, and their parents to identify their children’s abilities for further professional education and select the most appropriate areas for vocational training. These workshops were conducted by teachers from technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions as well as inclusive and special schools. Students at TVET institutions were enrolled in internships in various work settings. Another intervention was to promote equal access to open employment and accessibility to public-sector workplaces for youth with disabilities. LIFE also focused on raising awareness of youth with disabilities issues among employers and on providing job placement and post-placement support to such youth.
LIFE had an annual cost of US$ 200,000. LIFE was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with several NGOs and foundations including Activa International Foundation, Unison, Human Dignity and Peace Foundation, and Full Life. LIFE collaborated with the Ministry of Labour and Social Issues, the State Employment Agency and the Medical Social Expertise Agency, as well as employment centres, TVET institutions, business organizations, service providers and organizations working with youth with disabilities.
In 2016, LIFE was replaced by the project Social Innovations for Vocational Education and Employability of Young People with Disabilities (SIVEE).
Main challenges: One of the key challenges faced by LIFE during its implementation was that overcoming and removing many of the barriers faced by youth with disabilities requires changing the perceptions of societies and communities about such youth. This led LIFE to realize the importance of advocacy on the issues faced by youth with disabilities, but also on the need to create inclusive workplace environments based on demand in the market place. Another challenge faced by LIFE was to match vocational training with the needs of the employers. Thus, the “train and place” model was replaced by “place and train” models, where youth with disabilities were integrated into employment settings, receive training while they worked, and were supported by regular coaching to ensure success. This model was also useful in eliminating stereotypes and prejudices about the qualities and potential of youth with disabilities. The model allowed employers to observe and coach interns who were youth with disabilities in the real work environment, to check their job readiness, knowledge, skills and potential, as well as their ability to work in a team.
Results achieved: Between 2012 and 2015, approximately 900 youth with disabilities were placed in training in 90 state vocational education institutions, while 1,045 teachers from these institutions participated in a series of training sessions on methods of Inclusive Education. In addition, 720 employers participated in round-table discussions on issues concerning employment of persons with disabilities, and 653 youth with disabilities were employed through the LIFE programme.
Building on the experience of LIFE, SIVEE trains teachers in TVET, providing market-oriented short-term vocational courses to youth with disabilities in 14 specialties including computer literacy, cooking, hairdressing, sewing, wood items processing, bee-keeping, and furniture making. In the first 15 months of its operation, SIVEE had already established five TVET-based social enterprises and trained 282 young people with disabilities.
Moving Forward: SIVEE is to run until the end of 2017 and operates in Yerevan as well as 6 of the 10 marzes (provinces) in Armenia. It is also implemented by Save the Children and has financial support from the European Union and works in partnership with the Professional Education Reforms NGO. SIVEE closely collaborates with the Ministry of Education and Science, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs of Armenia, along with TVET institutions across Armenia. To ensure long-term sustainability, SIVEE will establish profitable TVET-based social enterprises. By the end of project, SIVEE plans to set up 46 social enterprises and benefit 400 youth with disabilities. .
Replicability: Vocational skills training plays an important role in assisting youth with disabilities to develop the capacity they need to find employment. A key lesson learned from LIFE, which can be applied to many settings, is that placing youth with disabilities in community-based training programmes is more successful in equipping them with marketable skills than in-class training followed by job placement later on.
Background Information on Armenia’s school-to-work transition (2012 and 2014):
School-to-work transition Survey (SWTS) in Armenia, National Statistics Service of Armenia and International Labor Organization (ILO), published in 2016.
Further information: http://life-disability.am/About_LIFE.html
This good practice was kindly prepared by Dr. Antonio Postigo
Date: June 16, 2017