Labour market policies and migration

IPPMD data confirm that the search for jobs is the main driver of emigration from Armenia. About 80% of current emigrants reported that they left the country to take or search for jobs abroad (Chapter 3). Policy instruments that improve the domestic labour market may therefore reduce the incentive to migrate.

The IPPMD study focuses on policies that aim to enhance labour market efficiency through government employment agencies, improve the skills set of labour through vocational training programmes, and expand labour demand by increasing public employment programmes. It asks to what extent are these policies present in Armenia, and are they having an influence on migration?

Vocational training programmes tend to curb emigration in Armenia

The Armenian government is increasing its attention to vocational education and training (vET). The National Center for VET Development under the Ministry of Education and Science is responsible for increasing the efficiency of preliminary (handicraft) and vocational education and training. This includes adult education system reforms to foster its development, international integration, and the international recognition of certificates and qualifications awarded in the Republic of Armenia. It is involved in developing VET strategy and policy, and medium and long-term development programmes and action plans for the development of the VET system; organising and implementing analyses of VET system; and participating in the rationalisation of the VET system, including developing proposals concerning the creation, reorganisation, liquidation, allocation and revision of activities.

The IPPMD survey found that 9% of the labour force surveyed had participated in a vocational training programme in the five years prior to the survey. A higher share of women took part in vocational training than men: 13% versus 6%. There was no discernible difference between participation rates in rural and urban areas. Survey findings indicate that the type of training programmes women and men take differ. While the most common programmes for women are education or health-related (27% and 17%, respectively), men were more likely to seek training in computing/information technology (13%), followed by electricity/plumbing (8%) and mechanics (7%).

Vocational training programmes can affect migration in two different ways. While they might help people secure better jobs in the domestic labour market, thereby reducing the need to migrate, they might also make would-be migrants more employable overseas. A comparative study of the ten IPPMD partner countries shows that in most countries the share of people planning to migrate is higher among those who had participated in a vocational training programme than among those who did not (OECD, 2017). This suggests that in general, people participate in vocational training programmes in order to find a job abroad. Armenia, however, is an exception to this pattern. A lower share of people who took part in trainings plan to emigrate compared to non-participants: 7% versus 12%. The difference is statistically significant.

This pattern is explored in a regression analysis (Box 5.1).1 It examines the links between participating in vocational training programmes and plans to emigrate while controlling for other factors, such as unemployment. The results (shown in Table 5.2) indicate a negative link between vocational training programmes and plans to emigrate, particularly for men. As seen in Chapter 4, in Armenia the propensity to emigrate is higher among the lower-skilled occupational groups than higher-skilled groups. Thus, vocational training programmes could be promoting upward labour mobility and reducing incentives to look for jobs abroad. The results also suggest that being unemployed appears to push people to emigrate. Having an emigrant member in the household also raises the propensity to move abroad.

Box 5.1. Participation in a vocational training programme reduces men’s plan to emigrate

To investigate the link between participation in vocational training programmes and having plans to emigrate, the following probit model was used:

where plan_migj represents whether individual i has a plan to emigrate in the future. It is a binary variable and takes a value of 1 if the person is planning to leave the country; voc_trainingj is the variable of interest and represents a binary variable indicating if the individual participated in a vocational training programmes in the five years prior to the survey; controls; stand for a set of control variables at the individual level and controlshh for household level controls;3 Sr implies regional fixed effects and e; is the randomly distributed error term. The model has been tested for two different groups: men and women. The coefficients of the variables of interest are shown in Table 5.2.

Table 5.2. Participation in a vocational training programme reduces men’s

plan to emigrate

Dependent variable: Individual plans to emigrate

Main variables of interest: Individual has participated in a vocational training programme Type of model: Probit

Sample: Labour force in working age (15-64)

Variables of interest





Individual participated in a vocational




training programme




Household has at least one emigrant







Individual is unemployed







Number of observations

2 856

1 632

1 224

Note: Results that are statistically significant are indicated as follows: ***: 99%, **: 95%, *: 90%. Standard errors in parentheses.

a. Control variables include age, sex, education level of individuals and whether the individual is unemployed or not. At the household level, the household's size and its squared value, the dependency ratio, its wealth indicator and its squared value are controlled for. Whether the household has an emigrant or not is also controlled for.

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