After several years of double-digit economic growth, Armenia faced a severe economic recession with GDP declining more than 14% in 2009. The econom began to recover in 2010 with 2.1% growth, and picked up to 4.6% growth in 2011 (according to the CIA World Factbook, June 2012). Unemployment rates are between 5.9-6.9%, and the youth unemployment rate is the highest in the world at 57.6%.
The USAID Enterprise Development and Market Competitiveness (EDMC) project is designed to raise incomes and employment in Armenia by promoting growth in selected value chains. Fundamentally, the EDMC workforce development component, which IDG works on, aims to: improve educational curricula; provide VET services directly within value chains; improve labor market data; improve job-matching websites; and assist private employment service providers.
It is generally agreed that workforce skills in Armenia are misaligned with the skills needed by Armenian enterprises - thus hindering the competitiveness of Armenian businesses. One way to remedy this situation is to help ensure that Armenian businesses are identifying and hiring the best-qualified job entrants - who can learn faster, produce more, and stay on the job longer than low-qualified workers.
In June and July of 2012, IDG worked with private employment service providers and university career centers staff to expand awareness of international level employment services and career center services and practices; increase aspiration to advance these serivces and practices; and an increased capacity to improve private employment advisors and university career centers through the application of practical actions and international best practices. Participants of a four-day training gained understanding of their roles in the labor market and began to look at their industry as a collective, rather than individual organizations in competition with each other for a slice of the market. Participants expressed that through this training they gained a sense of pride about their work, and left motivated to improve and expand their services and practices.