25 small grants will be offered each year for setting up new businesses and assisting existing ones to the economic entities that will employ graduates of the Vocational Education and Training Centre (VET Centre) based in Grigorauca, Sangerei district. This is one of the objectives of the project titled Rural Development Programme and Training Centre, launched on Thursday, October 4, by the Public Association “Hilfswerk Austria” in Moldova, as part of the international conference themed “Promoting Development in Vocational Education and Training”. The project aims to increase access to vocational education and training, which is expected to lower migration and at the same time diversify business opportunities in rural areas. According to Hilfswerk Austria’s Country Manager for Moldova Anatol Bucatca, in 5 districts in central Moldova (Sangerei, Telenesti, Orhei, Rezina, Soldanesti) there will be created a network of manufacturers, traders and service providers that will cooperate with the VET Centre. Particularly encouraged will be the economic activities that will serve as an alternative to agriculture, such as tourism and craftsmanship, Anatol Bucatca said. The project also envisages opening a centre that will offer consultancy services for individual entrepreneurs. This project is a follow-up to the Professional Training Centre for Youth, established in Grigorauca in 2005 as part of the Child and Youth Protection Programme. More than 80 young people from underprivileged families attend courses like sewing, hair-dresser, tractor-driving, PC operating and accounting. The students are also helped to find a job – more than a half of the VET Centre graduates are now employed, Anatol Bucatca pointed out. The new project envisages extending the activity of the VET Centre by building a dormitory for the students from other localities. It is also planned to strengthen cooperation with the local employment agencies as well as with local authorities and businessmen. The project “Rural Development Programme and Training Centre”, implemented by the non-profit organisation “Hilfswerk Austria” and funded by the Austrian Development Cooperation, will run from October 2007 until December 2010. Besides the VET Centre in Grigorauca, within the framework of the “Child and Youth Protection Programme” completed in August 2007, there were rehabilitated the Dubasari-based Day-care Centre for children with disabilities, the roofs and the piping system of the Boarding School in Straseni, and other facilities for institutionalised children. In Moldova since 2001, “Hilfswerk Austria” provides worldwide assistance to people in need. In 2006 alone, the organisation implemented 60 projects in 28 countries.