Development of Vocational Education in Azerbaijan: Analysis and Recommendations

Development of Vocational Education in Azerbaijan

Analysis and Recommendations

Hind-sight analysis

The main purpose of this document developed by “Uluchay” Social-Economic Innovative Center is to analyze reforms in the sphere of vocational education and trainings made in recent years, as well as to promote perfect world experience by researching problems and perspectives for complex development of Vocational Schools and Centers functioning in the north-western region of our country (Sheki, Gakh, Oghuz, Zagatala, Balakan).

According to researches, we see that although the government made certain steps towards the development of vocational education and trainings, there is still much to do in this sphere. Development of Strategic Road Map on complex development of vocational education and trainings in the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2016-2025 and establishment of State Agency for Vocational Education under the Ministry of Education as the body directly responsible for development of this sphere is commendable. So, world globalization, global economic environment, productivity requirements and employment – all these four global tendencies being the factor of economic productivity increase the importance of the vocational education.

Because vocational education system fully meets the interests of all stakeholders – employees, institutions and state.

It’s useful for institutions for providing high-quality staff, as well as uninterrupted transmission of the processing. At the same time they have economic advantages, so, they are free from such expenses as searching for employees, teaching them for years, their adaptation to the work process and etc.

Vocational education system is an excellent opportunity for youth in the context of starting independent life, adapting to adult life. Also they have more opportunities to be provided with relevant job as soon as they graduate from the school.

In this process only state derives advantage both from political and economic point of view. Vocational education system will completely solve the problem of the process of high quality workers preparation for the country’s economy.  On the other hand this process plays an important role in resolution of unemployment problem.

Researches show that recently an attitude towards the vocational education establishments has changed positively by both the state and the younger generation.

In accordance with the experience of developed European countries, proper development of vocational education system creates ample opportunities for resolution of the unemployment problem of youth and provision of local labor market with qualified employees.

The strongest development of this area requires rapid development of employers’ integration into the vocational education and training system, the establishment of a strong results-based financial system, the development of targeted professional development and specific sectoral programs, as well as the application of tools to foster the achievement of vocational education objectives.

It should be noted that in order to achieve dynamic development of vocational education and training system and to obtain sustainable results many processes should be developed simultaneously. Surveys revealed that cooperative relationship between the private sector and vocational education institutions has been poorly established, with some exceptions. One of the main reasons of this is that small and medium businesses do not have the required level of competitiveness in the country’s economy and a small number of competitive institutions, and the other reason is the lack of proper legislative base to stimulate the development of this process. Therefore, there is a critical need in enhancement of an active labor market and organization of flexibility in planned activities of stakeholders for strengthening social partnership.

Development of vocational education is one of the main requirements of real life. In this regards, one can feel state’s interest and desire to carry out reforms in vocational education and this is evidenced by the state policy aimed at the development of non-oil sector and the diversification of the economy. In fact, this sphere should have been paid much attention long ago.

Notwithstanding with the measures taken, urgent resolution of certain problems in vocational education and training system, which is one of the main priorities of educational sphere, is very significant.  So, while in developed countries 40-60 percent of graduates are enrolled exactly in vocational education institutions, in Azerbaijan this indicator is very low, indicating that the population’s interest in this education is still small.

Thus, in 2017-2018 a number of graduates enrolled in various universities of Azerbaijan was 36.428. Although forecasted number of graduates to be enrolled in vocational education and training institutions was 11.600 on state order, and 9.350 on a fee-paying basis, that is in total 20.950, only 11.017 people has registered on “Asan – Vocation” electronic entrance system, and 9.196 of them enrolled in vocational education institutions (there are some misunderstanding in statistical figures, so in some sources this number is 11.684).

This shows that only 20% of youth in Azerbaijan give preference to vocational education. Part of them are those who couldn’t succeed in entrance exams to universities, i.e. vocational education is a secondary choice for youth.

It should be emphasized that the greatest activity and responsibility for the development of vocational education system is on those who are responsible for local governing bodies and employees in the sphere of vocational education.

Surveys show that local governments are not completely coherent with the principles of market economy and the qualification level of workers are not satisfactory. Analysis conducted by the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan Republic among 4000 people working in vocational education institutions in our country also provides basis for such a conclusion.   Thus, in our country employees under 30 years old working in this system is 60%, employees older than 60 is 40%. 2.200 of them have higher education, 1.800 of them have secondary professional education, and some of them even have only secondary education.

Surely, although the government provides all mechanisms and required financial investment for the development of this sphere, in terms of current human resources potential it seems impossible to achieve new approach and sustainable results in vocational education system.

Along with that, there are a lot of typical problems in vocational education and training system in our country. These are lack of updated and flexible legal and regulatory framework on the first vocational education, physically and mentally outdated material and technical and educational basis, education programs meeting contemporary requirements, meeting the demand in textbooks and educational materials, interest of employer in funding vocational education institutions, weak cooperation between structures based on different types of properties and functioning in the sphere of vocational education, weak career guidance in general education institutions, non-compliance of graduates with the requirements of labor market and others.

State Agency for Vocational Education

This sphere has been paid much attention by the state for the last 2 years.  To support the development of this sphere legislative base has been developed and State Agency for Vocational Education under the Ministry of Education of Azerbaijan Republic (SAVE) was established in 2017.

The SAVE’s report on its activities for 2017-2018 is remarkable in its significant efforts to eliminate the stagnation in this sphere.

So, within this period of time:

  • 5 working groups on 6 priority directions of the Strategic Road Map were created.
  • Monitoring activities were conducted in 109 vocational education institutions.
  • For the purpose of further improvement of management of vocational education institutions, effective usage of financial means, improvement of quality indicators till 2020, a project of Action Plans on rationalization and optimization of a number of vocational education institutions, suspension or temporary freezing their activities, and for newly established educational institutions has been developed and submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
  • Considering priority directions of economy, based on different selection criteria for the selection of pilot vocational education institutions Baku State Vocational Education Centers for Industry and Innovations, Engineering and Technologies, Marine Transportation, Vessels Building and Port issues, Lankaran, Jalilabad, Saatli, Barda Vocational Schools, Mingachevir State Vocational Center, Ganja State Vocational Education Center for Industry and Technologies and Gabala State Vocational Education Center have been assigned as pilot vocational education institutions.
  • Project on “Procedure on organizing career development and education courses for older persons in vocational education institutions” has been developed and submitted to the Cabinet of Ministries of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
  • New project on “State standards on the first vocational education in Azerbaijan Republic” has been developed and placed on the web-site of the Ministry of Education and presented for public discussion.
  • Gabala State Vocational Education Center has been developed.
  • Joint agreements on cooperation have been signed with employers: “Gilan Holding”, “Gilan Agricultural Group” LLC, Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University under the Azerbaijan Republic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, “MIDA” LLC under the State Agency for Housing Construction, “Norm Cement” LLC, “Zahmat-Ruzi” LLC, “Yashil chay” Farming enterprise LLC.
  • State-Private Partnership Projects in Vocational Education: “STEP IT Academy”, British Petroleum, British Council, BBF, “Junior Achievement Azerbaijan” PA, ABAD.
  • Easy and objective admission to vocational education institutions has been fully provided within the “ASAN Vocational” Project implemented jointly by the Ministry of Education and “ASAN Service”.

International Cooperation:

  • New project on “State standards on the first vocational education in Azerbaijan Republic” has been developed and placed on the web-site of the Ministry of Education and presented for public discussion.
  • Gabala State Vocational Education Center has been developed.
  • Joint agreements on cooperation have been signed with employers: “Gilan Holding”, “Gilan Agricultural Group” LLC, Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University under the Azerbaijan Republic Ministry of Culture and Tourism, “MIDA” LLC under the State Agency for Housing Construction, “Norm Cement” LLC, “Zahmat-Ruzi” LLC, “Yashil chay” Farming enterprise LLC.
  • State-Private Partnership Projects in Vocational Education: “STEP IT Academy”, British Petroleum,
  • British Council, BBF, “Junior Achievement Azerbaijan” PA, ABAD,
  • Easy and objective admission to vocational education institutions has been fully provided within the “ASAN Vocational” Project implemented jointly by the Ministry of Education and “ASAN Service”.
  • Within the framework of the European Neighborhood Instrument of European Union, the State Agency for Vocational Education has launched “Technical Assistance of European Union to the Development of Vocational Education and Training (VET) in Azerbaijan” project (EuropeAid / 137866 / IH / SER / AZ).
  • 4 granted projects of European Union have been launched: “Support to the establishment of Regional Industrial VET Competence Centre in Ganja”; “Establishment of Regional VET Centre of Excellence in Lankaran Economic Region”; establishment of Gabala State Vocational Education Center, Gakh Vocational School, pilot “dual” VET system on 4 qualification in agricultural and tourism spheres in Ismayilli Vocational Education Center; development of Barda Vocational Lyceum as a “business and social partner” and “exemplary model” for employers and other stakeholders.
  • Within the framework of technical-economic cooperation agreement between the government of Azerbaijan and the government of People’s Republic of China, 168 units of 70 types of simulators of different assignments, equipment on training systems, working tables, mechanisms, tools and other facilities have been brought to our country.
  • Reports on “Turin Process 2016-2017” and “Benchmarking on EU 2020 indicators” prepared by Azerbaijan have been submitted to European Union.
  • “Memorandum of Understanding” between the State Agency for Vocational Education and Korean Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training (KRIVET) of the Republic of Korea has been signed.
  • In accordance with the project of Korean Economic Development and Cooperation Foundation “Establishment of Vocational Education Center” (8 specialties – mechanics, electronics, electric engineering, installation works in industry, construction, IR, automobiles, automatization), all preparation works for starting the construction of specialized vocational education center on the territory of Baku State Vocational Education Center for Industry and Innovations.
  • The SAVE has completed the implementation of 52%, has partially implemented 40% and hasn’t implemented 8% of measures planned for 2017 specified by “Strategic Road Map” on “Vocational Education and Training Development in the Republic of Azerbaijan” in 2017.
  • Some amendments have been made to the “Duration of implementation of curriculum” approved by the Cabinet of Ministers. Under the article 9.8 of the Law “On vocational education” duration of education in vocational education institutions are defined according to the following groups:
  • In groups organized for those who have general secondary education base and get the first vocational education – 1 year; in groups organized for those who get technical vocational education – 2 years.
  • In groups organized for those who have complete secondary education base and get the first vocational education – 6 months; in groups organized for those who get technical vocational education – 1 year.
  • In groups organized for those who have general secondary education base and get complete secondary education as well as the technical vocational education – 3 years.
  • In groups organized for those who have general secondary education base and get higher technical vocational education – 4 years.
  • In groups organized for those who have complete secondary education base and get higher technical vocational education – 3 years. years.
  • For those who have completed general secondary and full secondary education and gained some theoretical and practical skills in production or other business areas, duration of education on studying the same or other profession and on retraining courses at employer’s or their own expense is up to 6 months.

Additional notes:

“Employment Strategy of Azerbaijan Republic  for 2019-2030” document has been approved during researches and preparation of recommendations. Despite the fact that some following notes and recommendations are reflected in mentioned paper, it would be reasonable to bring their implementation to the forefront in order to achieve more effective results.

  • Although knowledge-based mechanisms include administrative information collected by instructors, their reports are not disclosed.
  • Obtaining information on the results of graduates in labor market is impossible.
  • Although there is a policy to introduce social partners to consultation, they have limited impact.
  • There is no permanent body to involve social partners, nevertheless the valuation rules and procedures of employers are expected to increase at the regional and local levels.
  • Restoration of Vocational Education Institutions activities in penitentiary institutions is of great importance in social reintegration of prisoners.
  • Support to youth in their access to the labor market is limited.
  • Innovative approaches in providing employment should be given more attention.
  • To create competitive workforce important amendments should be done in vocational education standards.
  • Social protection of learners and young employees should be stimulated.
  • The fact that the work done during the process is not of report, but of a practical character can have more positive impact on the development of this field.
  • Despite the fact of institutional approach to coordination of measures on development of work force, it’s not system-based.
  • It would be reasonable to manage the improvement of financial support of VET institutions and provision of transparency from a single center. According to SAVE’s information, the documents on “Vocational Education Development Foundation” institution to be established for the development of this sphere in the near future are being processed.
  • There are a lot of institutions coordinating the development of VET system.
  • Cabinet of Ministers coordinates the work of several ministries on realization of this state program. Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population, Ministry of Emergency Situations and local administration function together in development of vocational education.

Overall coordination of this field by the SAVE affords ground to overcome bureaucratic obstacles quickly. At the same time, it would be reasonable to consult with different agencies for implementation of works, but not as a requirement, but as a recommendation.

Financial support of Vocational Education Institutions:

“Strategic Road Map” envisages the implementation of measures envisaged for comprehensive development of vocational education system in the Republic through the following sources:

  1. Government budget;
  2. Extra-budgetary funds;
  3. Funds of the National Fund for Entrepreneurship Support;
  4. Local budgets;
  5. Funds of local governing bodies, institutions and organizations regardless of property type;
  6. Direct external investments;
  7. Loans and grants of country banking system;
  8. Loans, technical and financial aid of international organizations and foreign countries;
  9. Other sources not prohibited by legislation. For the purpose to ensure effective spending of financial funds for the defined strategic goals, budgets are designed to be developed within the framework of the results-based budgeting process. Major part of the required financial funds will be ensured by reorganization of current budgets, joint financing efforts of private sector and different investors.

Strategic Road Map for the development of Vocational Education and Training in Azerbaijan Republic supposes to invest 188 million manats to this sphere by 2020.

165 million manats of this fund is planned to be spent for the establishment of partnership with Employers, and 23 million manats for identification of additional state, private and international funding sources to provide further development of vocational education system.   Number of people benefiting from this amount of funds is 372.  From them: 195 people are new specialists to be involved to vocational education system, 177 people are those who provides vocational education and upgrading skills for older people. Impact on real GDP as a result of investment planned by 2020 is indicated as 6 million manats.

In order to achieve defined strategic goals it’s required 190 million 950 thousand manats.

Researches show that government budget is the main source of funding based on last year’s budget. Since the mechanism for reviewing funding criteria, as well as the access to statistical information collected from schools is limited, initiatives to assess the efficiency of vocational education and training funding are impossible.

International support:

Significance of Dual Education System

Practice is a criterion of truth.

In Vocational Education and Training Institutions functioning in our country, theory and practice do not complement each other. So, quality characteristics of economy limits the required usage in global competition. One of the main reasons of this is lack of qualified employees in regional labor market. In most cases elimination of gap between the theory and practice fall on institutions and each of them tries to solve the problem as it knows. At its best institutions can get qualified staff in 3-5 years.

To make the vocational education and training system efficient and high-quality, it’s advisable to rely on the experience of countries that solve this problem at a high level.

According to the assessment of International Monitoring Institute (Switzerland) analyzing workforce quality, the most progressive approach to preparation of high-quality staff is in Germany.  Germany’s dual education system has proved itself in the world and is a model for all European countries.

GIZ (German Society for International Cooperation) in Ismayilli regarding the promotion of this system is currently promoting awareness-raising and information campaigns for promoting this system.

Modern technology has led to the formation and development of dual education system, which has now become a tradition of “unit” in our lives. As a result of close cooperation between companies and vocational education institutions, this has led to the increase in number of qualified employees.

That is learners study a theory in vocational education institutions for 1 hour, and do practical trainings with qualified master for 3 hours (they even get material incentives for this).

In our country youth try to enter universities after graduating secondary schools (in most cases on insistence of parents). This is connected with a kinda forgetting art learning culture.

However in Germany at least half of graduates prefer to get vocational technical education and to create some things by themselves. In this country, in compliance with the fast dynamics of economics, hundreds of arts are learned and this list is constantly growing.

The main significance of dual education system is that the theory and practice always complement each other. Learners study 1-2 days a week in vocational schools, other days they work in institutions. Youth, along with the obtaining theoretical knowledge on selected profession in vocational school, also study mother tongue, mathematics, foreign language and etc. as it is in curriculum of general education schools. And masters in institutions teach them practical knowledge and tricks of the trade.

This Program is considered for 3 years and learners pass exams at the end. Examination Commission consists of the representatives of school and institutions, representatives of regional artists’ organizations or of Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Learners who successfully pass the exams get the right to work on their profession by obtaining the Chamber’s certificate.

In Germany, the main load of funds allocated for this area lies with the corporations accrues to institutions. So, institutions have to spend 40 billion Euro annually to their personnel development, which is much more than the funds allocated by the state to higher education institutions. State’s role in this education system consists of only the funding vocational education institutions, the rest expenditures are born by institutions.

It’s interesting that there was a system similar to the dual education system in the north-western region of Azerbaijan, precisely in Shaki. Looking back at the development dynamics of the region we  get an interesting image. It turns out that from the ancient times people living in this region have different professional skills and have created good livelihoods and have always developed, not only to provide their region, but also other regions with their products.

Even though contemporary names in our language are currently being used for collaborative activities of various professionals, for example, Councils, Associations, etc., joint activities of artists was promoted at that time. Particularly, there were workshops associations or workshop organizations in Shaki region called Asnaf.

Asnafs were divided into 3 categories:

  1. Craftsmen 2. Apprentices 3. Learners

These Asnafs have produced at least 18 types of products, working with thousands of skilled craftsmen: hat-makers (235), producers of silk kalaghayi and silk shawls, national applications craftsmen in different fields, leather-crafters (173), tailors (154), hairdressers, silversmithes (41), jewelers (31), takalduz makers (50), saddlers (22), decorative slipper makers (16), plaid surface decorators (50), carpenters, stone carvings (this type of art has evolved over the last years), various pickles makers, confectioners, various souvenirs masters, shabaka masters and etc.

Researches show that an increase in the number of tourists and local visitors to our region has led to the revival of many qualifications we have mentioned above. Thus, economic growth dynamics is observed in confection, takalduz, stone carvings, souvenirs production, kalaghayi and silk shawls production and other fields.  Demand in other modern profession is also growing. So, there is a need in such qualified specialists as craftsmen in repair of foreign-made cars, machine electricians, modern doors and windows masters, furniture masters, and hotel and hostel services providers and other professionals. According to researches, in the activities of vocational training institutions functioning in the region, strong work should be done in the direction of training specialists in ancient crafts and specialties demanded by modern labor market. Taking into account current world tendencies in the sphere of vocational education and training, for the purpose of development vocational education system, which trains qualified specialists based on curriculum corresponding the requirements of labor market, flexibility and integration principles should be used as a basis.

Research results:

In issuance of researches conducted by “Uluchay” Social-Economic Innovation Center on five economic regions of the country, current state and problems of vocational education and training and ways of resolution of these problems, as well as the perspectives have been analyzed again. Thus, in addition to preserving traditions of professions in many directions in the region, tendencies of development in this sphere have been felt in recent years. The main reason of this is the increase in number of internal and external tourists coming to the region for the recent times.  Along with dozens of vocational standards in vocational education institutions, the balance of most of them comprises land properties and other assets. Moreover they seem to be interested in conduction of reforms in this field. Gakh Vocational Lyceum established close cooperation relations with GIZ (German Society for International Cooperation).

Vocational institutions in the region carry out planning for development of this field via partnership with private sector. Researches show that infrastructure of most of vocational education institutions in this region, their equipment and material and technical resources, curriculum, textbooks and study guides, as well as the level of competence of pedagogical and other staff have not been adapted to modern requirements, and most of them do not fully meet the requirements of today’s labor market. Management system is not flexible. Financial solvency of vocational education and training institutions is at a low level. Access to electron information in these vocational institutions is limited. These institutions has not still created their serious image and the promotion in this sphere is weak. Attitude to vocational education institutions should be changed also in region. So, their involvement to the works beyond their profile has a negative impact on education quality. As there is still a lack of incentive salaries system in Vocational Education institutions functioning in the region, professional teachers and trainers are less likely to work in these institutions. Number of teachers and other employees in most of Vocational Education institutions is less than the number of learners. For instance, in Gakh Vocational Lyceum there is a staff of 93 employees responsible for the study of 376 learners. 19 of these employees are trainers, 38 of them are teachers, the rest of them (36 persons) are management and technical staff.

In other regions (Shaki and Balakan) this information has not been finalized as respective structural changes are being conducted. So, in an attempt to further improve the management of vocational education institutions and quality indicators, Shaki State Vocational Education Center has been established on the basis of Shaki Vocational Schools No. 1 and 2 and Balakan State Vocational Education Center established on the basis of Balakan Vocational Schools No.1 and 2 incorporated according to the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated on November 28, 2018.   Almost all learners of Vocational Education Institutions receive practical training in their institutions on the profession they chose, but in fact, in order to get more efficient results the practice of learners in workshops will lead to more effective results and quality improvements.  On the other hand, in order to assess knowledge and skills of learners graduated from the Vocational Education Institutions, the format and significance of examinations should be fundamentally changed.  There is no information available to track the quantitative and qualitative dynamics of the deployment of personnel trained in vocational education institutions functioning in the region in labor market. Owing to lack of special mechanism for learning the need in qualified labor force in labor market, there is no data base.  In accordance with the requirements of labor market, necessary measures should be taken to predict personnel training. Regular researches should be carried out within the labor market and vocational schools in order to define the criteria on professional standards of employers. Relationship among the vocational training institutions based on various ownership should be expanded. Improving the quality of labor market in accordance with the needs of labor force development, improving the economy, competitiveness, improving the vocational education system, developing vocational and training standards in labor market are the most important elements.. So, as the improvement of vocational education makes an important contribution to the formation of human capital and provision of youth employment, granting a status of students to those who study in these education institutions would be a significant step in terms of image.

These institutions use the opportunities of modern technology mildly. Strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities are not considered, and they are functioning based on tasks and instructions from the upper instances as it used to be in Soviet period.

Researches with employers show that they (employers) are interested in mutual cooperation rather than in bureaucratic approach. Thus, based on analysis, employers defines the accordance of certain privileges (for example, tax remissions) to employers as an incentive factor in for the purpose of overall improvement of this sphere.   Notwithstanding with the fact that qualified personnel working in their institutions is a positive economic dividend for them. Therefore, social partnership, unification of employers and application of a legal framework covering the laws on employees authorized bodies would be reasonable. At the same time, education and awareness campaigns carried out for the improvement of vocational education system, should be considered for the employers as well.

Recommendations

  • Defining and regular updating of sequential mechanism of prestigious occupations for the region.
  • Organization of education and awareness campaigns in the direction of vocational education and training of youth.
  • Creating database due to conducting researches on vocational needs in entrepreneurship subjects functioning in the region.
  • Increasing investments made by either government bodies or institutions for strengthening material and technical base of vocational schools and centers.
  • Improvement of teachers studying theory and practice in vocational schools, strengthening works in development of knowledge and skills.
  • Increasing the role of actors participating in value chain in planning system.
  • Transfer of innovative ideas and development of the creation of good practices system.
  • Establishment of networking system among Vocational Education and Training Institutions.
  • Adaptation of electronic and internet resources usage to modern requirements.
  • Strengthening the efforts in direction of supply the local market with qualified staff in a short period of time by changing stereotypes against vocational education and training, which can greatly contribute to reducing unemployment among young people.
  • Strengthening the efforts in application of professions connected with agriculture and in direction of training qualified personnel in this field.
  • Updating legal base and ensuring flexibility in vocational education and training.
  • Updating material and technical base of vocational schools and centers, as well as the development of curriculum, textbooks and educational materials meetig the contemporary requirements.
  • Full compliance of the current management system to the principles of labor market and increase the effectiveness of state budgeting.
  • Arrangement of conditions for active participation of employers in financing vocational schools by creating an appropriate legislative base.
  • Increase the competence of those who work in this system.
  • Intensification the promotion of vocational education in general secondary schools.
  • Improvement in quality of competence and education level for the full compliance of graduates to the requirements of labor market.
  • Prohibition of the use of educational institutions for other purposes.
  • Establishment of institutions in production, services and other spheres in vocational schools and centers with proper facilities and conditions would be a significant step with respect to the material support and practice.
  • Lectures on the basics of Labor Legislation for students and pupils of higher, secondary special, primary vocational and general secondary education institutions should be organized.
  • Providing students getting vocational education and those who are in need with the hostel would stimulate them.
  • SMS messages should be used in order to promote vocational education and training system among the youth.
  • Strengthening the cooperation between State-local private sectors in order to increase the efficiency of vocational education.
  • Accelerate and extend the application of best practices.
  • Developing innovative ideas and insights by using modern technologies.
  • Easing an access to comprehensive information on the activities in the sphere of vocational education.