Getting a quality education and looking for a decent, well-paid job is never easy, but for people with some form of disability the challenge is even more severe.
According to official Azerbaijani statistics for 2022, about 560,000 people are registered as receiving disability benefits, about 5% of the population.
The EU-funded project, ‘VET for the future: development of VET providers’ excellence in Azerbaijan’, opens up vocational training opportunities not only for young people who recently left high school but also for senior citizens wishing to obtain new qualifications and find work, as well as persons with disabilities. The project has a budget of €5.6 million and is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In May 2022, the project launched a course on the new IT specialisation ‘Structured Query Language’ (SQL) which allows you to manage data in large databases. The course was designed to ensure that people with all abilities have full access to all the classes which were conducted partly online and partly offline.
Ramin Binnatov, a resident of Khirdalan near Baku, who has limited mobility, was an active participant in this inclusive course. During his life, Ramin had worked in various fields from banking consultant to accountant, but in recent years he found out that he also could do well in the IT sector, so he decided to improve his skills in that field.
“I was pleased to learn that there is a course in SQL Developer in Baku, as for a long time I was looking for training opportunities in this field. This is still a new IT qualification for our country, but a very promising one – all major organisations are gradually introducing this method of data management into their work. There is a great need for experts in this field,” says Ramin.
The training, according to Ramin, is well organised and very well thought out – the information is clearly structured and presented from a practical point of view, based on the professional experience of the teachers.
Ramin completed the course in October and successfully passed the exam. Now he has the opportunity to obtain a certificate from the international IT giant Microsoft.
Ramin Binnatov has every chance to become the first person with disability in Azerbaijan to hold a Microsoft certificate in SQL, which opens up potential employment opportunities, in particular, in the IT departments of large local and foreign companies, as well as in the public sector.
“The IT sphere is very appealing to me, especially because it allows me to work remotely, without being tied to any physical workplace. I can do my job from home, from the nearest park, from anywhere really. That’s a big advantage and a relief for people with limited mobility,” he says.
Despite the disability that Ramin suffered as a teenager as a result of a sports injury, he has remained active throughout his adult life. He participated in the Paralympic movement, worked as a volunteer at the 2015 European Games, and today, together with like-minded people, he is working to organise an inclusive cooking association in Azerbaijan.
Ramin does not miss the chance to acquire new knowledge. “Any education – higher, secondary, a multi-year programme or a short course, or maybe just a conversation with an interesting person – is always an opportunity for self-development. I try not to miss such opportunities in my life,” he says.
“I believe that the learning process should not stop at the age of 19, it should accompany a person’s life. This is the only way we can keep up with the times and remain in professional demand,” he adds.
The EU-funded project ‘Vocational Education and Training (VET) for the Future’ covers eight vocational institutions, four of which are in Baku, two in Ganja, and two in Jalilabad and Sheki.
Short-term inclusive courses, which are totally free of charge, are mainly composed of 15-20 students, with 3-5 students selected from among persons with disabilities. To date, a total of 300 students have been enrolled in these courses.
Among the professions covered in the short-term inclusive courses are cook, confectioner, tailor, florist, stained glass artist, hairdresser, as well as social media marketing and programming. Specialisations were selected based on the labour market needs and in discussion with major employers in the private and public sectors, as well as with specialists from the VET Centres themselves.
In addition to promoting vocational education and providing a methodological basis for training and employment, the project also supports teachers, introduces educational innovations, and modernises the infrastructure of these Centres. Prior to the implementation of these courses, 40 teachers were trained to work with students with disabilities in these inclusive courses.
#SənDəPeşəyəGəl (‘JoinVET’) is the hashtag for the information campaign about vocational training opportunities in Azerbaijan. Using this tag, users will be able to find useful information in social networks about all the available opportunities in VET.
Author: Elena Ostapenko
Article published in Azerbaijani and Russian by 1news.az
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