Policy Conference on Labor Market Trends and Challenges in Armenia Brings Together About 150 Stakeholders

On December 18, 2007 the RA Minister of Labor and Social Issues Aghvan Vardanyan and USAID/Armenia Social Reform Office Director Ann Hirschey, as well as CRRC-Armenia Director Heghine Manasyan, opened the policy conference on “Labor Market Trends and Challenges,” that aimed to promote a better understanding of the labor market trends and to elaborate common vision of policy measures towards improvement of labor market regulation in Armenia.

Held at the Congress hotel, the conference summoned about 150 participants – high level representatives and experts from the Armenian government, NGOs and businesses to address issues such as challenges and emerging trends in the labor market including the widening skills gaps between labor supply and demands sides, the increased internal and external movements of workforce, European integration processes and employment strategy guidelines and indicators.

As noted by Mr. Vardanyan, “The trends in the labor market have an impact on the growth and development of Armenia. I hope this conference will contribute to increased awareness and agreement among key stakeholders on key issues faced in this field.” Besides the RA MLSI, among other organizers of the conference are the USAID Armenia Social Protection Systems Strengthening (SPPS) Project, the Caucasus Research Resource Centers-Armenia (CRRC-Armenia, EPF), and the State Employment Service Agency (SESA).

“Labor market data is the basis for strategies and plans that lead to adaptive and responsive policies. USAID applauds this serious effort to bring labor market data from the academic shelf to the practical planning desk,” said Ms. Hirschey. Conference participants, among which the RA Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, Ministry of Education and Science, AEPLAC and the World Bank, discussed identified trends and their implications for labor market policies in Armenia. Of particular attention were that youth have more difficulties finding work than adults, the gap between worker skills and employer needs is growing in Armenia, while low birth rate and migration create challenges for employers.

“The most strategic priority of Armenia’s further development is knowledge-based economy that will create highly paid jobs and will contribute to competitiveness of local businesses in the global economy,” stated the RA Minister of Trade and Economic Development Nerses Yeritsyan. “It is obvious that wage growth and well-being should be based on labor productivity growth; and for sustainable development we need better education especially for prospective sectors, such as IT and tourism,” he added.

The Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Samvel Avetisyan, expressed satisfaction with the attention paid to rural employment throughout the conference. However, according to him, employment in agriculture is exaggerated. He suggested revisiting labor legislation so as not to consider land owners and their family adult members employed.