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Developing Initiatives in Vocational Education and Training for the Future of Work for Young People

Since 1995 we have been working with the Kyrgyzstan to develop education and training to boost employability, increase access to opportunity and promote social cohesion. Complementing the work of the EU’s External Action Service, we bring together ministries and social partners to develop scalable projects.

The ETF is closely involved in developing a methodology to track the ongoing progress of vocational education and training graduates in the country. Over recent years, ETF actions have focused on the Torino Process (rounds of 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016) and, between 2013-2016, the development of a sustainable Tracer study methodology for VET graduates. This was initiated at the request of the association of VET colleges (Secondary VET) and the VET Agency (Initial VET), while the working tools were developed together with Initial and Secondary VET providers. The approach was formally adopted in 2016 and is currently in use in all initial VET schools, and a national pool of trainers has been trained.

Political context and priorities

The Kyrgyzstan faces both regional and national challenges and has undergone important political and institutional change since 2010, following the ousting of President Bakiev and the outbreak of violence in the south of the country. The country has adopted a new constitution as well as a semi-parliamentary system, and has, since 2010, successfully held two parliamentary and presidential elections. In 2013, the country adopted a sustainable development strategy, which puts particular emphasis on the establishment of the rule of law, the importance of regional development and local government, support for the social sphere (including education) and better coordination of economic development ventures. Sustainable and resilient economic growth, political stability and educational reform are key priorities.

Socio-economic Situation

The Kyrgyzstan continues to face numerous socio-economic challenges. These include a large population of young people, high levels of international and internal migration and high poverty levels (32% in 2015) . These are combined with significant rural/urban disparities and a basic and general education system with poor outcomes in terms of student achievements and high dropout rates.

Though the country has over recent years experienced economic growth, the economy has been unable to absorb the existing workforce for many years. The overall outcome has been an unemployment rate of 7.6% (2015) and youth unemployment of 15%, as well as high levels of self-employment (39.2%) in combination with high levels of informality. Remittances represented over 25% of GDP in 2015.

Education and Labour Policies

The Kyrgyzstan adopted an Education Development Strategy in 2012 which runs up to 2020 and also covers the two Vocational Education and Training (VET) sub-sectors: Initial and Secondary VET. A key development over recent years have been the adoption of a National Qualification Framework (2016) and a stronger focus on short courses in order to make VET more accessible to vulnerable groups. The latter development is notably being supported by the Skills Development Fund (operational with donor support since 2016). Further system wide developments include a new competence framework for VET staff and structured analysis of VET staff development needs, the development of approaches to collect evidence on skills needs and matching and better inter-action with employers on competences to be developed through VET and in assessment.

EU support and the ETF

EU support in the country: The European Commission’s Multi-Annual Indicative Programme (MIP) for the Kyrgyzstan has allocated 184 million € for the period 2014-2020, which represents an increase of 74% to the previous MIP. Within this programme, 70 M€ have been earmarked for an Education Sector Reform programme, through budget support. The objectives are to a) support the government in managing public finances dedicated to the sector and to b) support the government in the implementation of education reforms. The programme targets primary and secondary education, as well as VET.

The Kyrgyzstan has also been consistently involved in regional ETF actions, such as the “school development for lifelong learning” initiative, which ran from 2009 to 2015.

The Kyrgyzstan is an active member of the Central Asian Education Platform (CAEP) and has taken part in a number of regional working groups, including the working group on evidence-based policy making moderated by the European Training Foundation.