MANILA, PHILIPPINES (8 December 2020) — The Asian Development Bank (ADB) today approved a $70 million loan to help increase labor productivity in Georgia and enhance the competitiveness of its economy by improving access to quality vocation education and training (VET) in the country.

The Modern Skills for Better Jobs Sector Development Program, ADB’s first engagement in the education sector in Georgia, aims to improve the quality and relevance of VET in priority economic sectors to ensure it is aligned with evolving labor market needs.

“Education and skills development are the bedrock of all successful economies in the 21st century,” said Director of Social Sector Division at ADB's Central and West Asia Department Rie Hiraoka. “ADB’s program will help to improve skills development and the employability of graduates in Georgia, boosting their chances of securing well-paid jobs and lifting their lifetime incomes. Soft skills including communication, problem-solving skills, and teamwork, are extremely important.”

In 2018, the Government of Georgia adopted a new law strengthening vocational education and training in the country. However, there is a need to further strengthen the policy and institutional framework for VET and improve its quality and relevance, given there is currently a mismatch between the skills required in the labor market and those produced by the VET system.

With COVID-19 causing a rise in unemployment, the project is designed to boost sectors that respond to pandemics or contribute to economic recovery, such as information and communications technology (ICT), and medical and pharmaceutical production. It will finance the introduction of e-learning and the retraining of workers in hard-hit sectors to help them acquire new skills and find work in areas with increasing employment opportunities.

“Given gender disparities in education and jobs, the program also contains specific measures to enhance VET access for women—as well as for ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups,” said ADB Country Director for Georgia Shane Rosenthal. “This is a core part of ADB’s strategy to help Georgia develop its human capital and realize its full potential.”

The project will also finance the establishment of two innovative skills hubs in existing VET institutes in Kutaisi and Telavi to deliver high-quality training in seven priority economic sectors: electronic engineering, ICT, medical and pharmaceutical production, fashion and design, water engineering, furniture production and carpentry, and services (hospitality and tourism).

ADB’s program supports institutional reforms such as a new regulatory framework for adult education and VET enrollment rules, and a more equitable funding scheme to boost participation by youth and vulnerable groups. Other reforms include increasing the VET budget by 23% and VET teachers’ salaries by 30% to recruit and retain qualified teachers.

It also seeks to increase private sector participation in VET in Georgia by encouraging employers’ involvement in the development of occupational standards and work-based learning; introducing public–private partnerships; and extending the government’s voucher program to students enrolled in priority programs of private VET institutes.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.

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