The Central Asian countries are dealing with serious demographic pressures. Population figures for 2008 ranged from 5.3 million in Kyrgyzstan to 27.3 million in Uzbekistan. All five countries have very young populations and this places particular pressure on the education sector and the labour market, and in some countries emigration is a key issue impacting on the demand for skills.
The region has not been dramatically hit by the economic and financial crisis that started in 2008. The positive economic growth in the region has not been accompanied by corresponding increases in job creation and labour force absorption. Although trends are positive, there are still issues outstanding, especially regarding the informal economy. Given that poor job-creation capacities mean that young people cannot be absorbed by the labour markets, there is a clear need to alleviate demographic pressure, and this typically happens through migration. Remittances are the most important source of revenue for all the Central Asia countries except Kazakhstan. All countries have started to reform their VET systems. Some well-directed, substantiated measures for increasing VET quality are slowly emerging, including the development of sector-based vocational standards and national qualifications frameworks, and improvements in VET curricula, the competences of VET professionals and needs assessment. However, a lack of resources and outdated technologies, materials and methodologies make it difficult to meet the objectives set by governments. Increased decentralisation of VET in line with shared responsibilities is one policy response in these countries.
All the countries, to differing degrees, face multiple challenges in three main areas:
- VET governance;
- the attractiveness and quality of VET;
- social partnership.
The ETF will seek continuity in its actions in Central Asia in 2012 focusing on the priorities identified in the Torino Process in 2010 and supported in 2011.
It will support the European Commission in implementing the Central Asia Education Initiative and seek synergies in promoting regional cooperation, national and regional policy dialogue and a shared approach to policy learning.
Through policy advice and capacity building support, the ETF contributes to evidence-based policy making and implementation. The Torino Process will aim at increasing the evidence-base and the quality of the analysis of VET in order to contribute to the quality enhancement of policy development and implementation. In particular Turkmenistan’s participation in the Torino Process in 2012 will be sought.