Ukraine is seeking ways to support the socio-economic development and competitiveness of its regions and strengthen the employability of its citizens. To support these goals, participants from Ukraine, neighbouring countries, and the European Union discussed ways of matching education priorities to labour market demand at a conference in Kyiv on March 21-22, jointly organised by the European Training Foundation (ETF) and the EU Delegation to Ukraine.
“The European regional policy is one of the biggest success stories for the EU and it has substantially changed the landscape of the member states,” Jan Tombiński, head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, said during the conference. In his speech, Ambassador Tombinski emphasised the importance of human capital development as a crucial factor in regional development.
Anatoliy Maksiuta, Ukraine’s first deputy minister for economic development and trade, pointed out that Ukrainian regions face several challenges incited by the demographic decline, with people leaving their home regions in search of better job opportunities elsewhere. According to him, in order to stop this trend, new jobs, and especially highly qualified people, are vitally needed.
A possible approach to analyzing demand and matching skills to it was undertaken in Dnipropetrovsk region, through a pilot project implemented by the European Training Foundation (ETF) at the request of the Ukrainian government. The project’s main objective was to focus vocational technical education to better meet the demands of the region’s labour market. The main results of the project, based on questionnaires received from enterprises and educational institutions, were presented at the conference by Oleksandr Demchyk, head of the Department of Education and Science of the Dnipropetrovsk oblast administration.
The pilot project highlighted that the number of specialists graduating from educational institutions in the region does not always reflect the real demands of the market, says Arjen Vos, head of the Unit for Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the ETF. “For example, the number of cooks educated in Dnipropetrovsk educational institutions exceeds the number of jobs offered by the restaurants in the region,” Vos explains.
The EU stands ready to contribute financially to the development of new approaches in Ukrainian regional policy. The conference allowed stakeholders to discuss the goals of the recently-launched EU-funded, “EU Support to Ukraine’s Regional Development Policy” programme. The Programme provides new opportunities for Ukrainian regions to increase their capacities and introduce bottom-up initiatives to support further progress and prosperity.
According to José Roman Leon Lora, head of the Operations Section for Economic Cooperation, Regional and Social Development of the EU Delegation to Ukraine, the EU has allocated €31 million to the new programme. Local and regional authorities are invited to submit proposals for projects in line with their priorities as set in the Regional Development strategies. Two calls for proposals will be launched by EU Delegation, a first one in the coming weeks.
Proper and balanced regional policy can contribute to improving quality of life and fulfilling the everyday needs of Ukrainian citizens, Ambassador Tombiński says. He adds that it can also help address problems linked to the massive outflow of labour from Ukraine. “Regional policy is about creating opportunities for people, increasing competiveness, and creating jobs,” the ambassador concludes.
Regional policy has developed into one of the most important policies of the European Union with regards to EU integration. The most recent regional policy initiative of the EU in Ukraine is the Support to Ukraine’s Regional Development Policy Programme, launched in January 2013 with a budget of €31 million. The programme provides policy advice, capacity building and training to institutions and actors at the central, regional and local level. Further, it finances concrete regional development projects in Ukrainian regions.
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Over the past years, the European Training Foundation (ETF) has positioned itself as a key international agency in Ukraine supporting the modernisation of the country’s vocational education and training system. The ETF has implemented a pilot project in Dnipropetrovsk that introduced new methods of analysing labour market demand from enterprises and matching it with the delivery of education and training.
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