The EU supports reforms in the candidate countries with financial and technical help through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). Linked to this, in the area of vocational education, Albania is the first EU candidate to embrace a sector-wide approach.
The National Employment and Skills Strategy and Action Plan 2014-20, adopted by the Albanian Government in 2014, outlines a vision for the sector and brings together, in one document, ambitious VET, employment and social inclusion objectives and measures.
The ETF, alongside the ILO and other development partners, assisted national authorities in compiling the Strategy and Action Plan. Albania’s efforts have been acknowledged by the EU, who have agreed to support the implementation of the Strategy through a Budget Support Programme worth €30 million.
Here again, the ETF has helped EU actors to select suitable indicators that would testify to the achievement of progress in Strategy implementation and trigger the release of specific tranches of money. Implementation has been underway since 2016. Annual progress reports are compiled and an Integrated Policy Management Group monitors implementation.
The 2016 Annual Progress Report shows substantial progress in terms of modernising employment services and measures to get unemployed people into jobs. However, overall progress in VET has been slow, mainly due to delayed efforts to overhaul the legal framework for VET, an area that has been flagged as a priority by the Rama government re-elected in 2017.
An example of good practice in VET reform is a multi-functional VET centre established with the backing of German donor agency GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in Kamza, an economically and socially deprived community near Tirana. Here a new model of VET is being piloted that offers full programmes to youth and short and medium-term courses to adults, the unemployed, those with social and other problems. Albania wants to move towards this type of model which ensures quality and inclusiveness.
Mimoza Agolli, independent expert in evidence-based policy making, says the Torino Process can be helpful to drive policy. ‘We have to give a presentation of the results that attracts politicians and keeps them interested. If you get ‘good’ results through this evaluation of the national strategy and appeal to political decision makers, then we are winning!’