Kyrgyz Labour Market Not Ready for Growing Youth Population
Research at the University of Central Asia (UCA) has highlighted several areas that require immediate attention to mitigate high unemployment among youth in Kyrgyzstan. UCA’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA) presented the findings of an assessment study on the “Labour Market for Youth in Kyrgyzstan” on June 20th 2019 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The event brought together representatives of state ministries and agencies, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations.
The current population of Kyrgyzstan is estimated at 6.4 million, of which 25.7% are youth (14-28 years old). This figure is 8% higher than the average for Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The relatively large proportion of youth in Kyrgyzstan has a direct impact on their employability and market readiness due to growing competition for available jobs. This will be an ongoing issue as the population of Kyrgyzstan continues to become younger in the next decade.
“Up to 2035, the country population will keep growing at a stable pace. The competition in the labour market will keep increasing and will affect the youth labour market, and as a result, excess labour will leave the country,” emphasised Dr. Kanat Tilekeev, IPPA Research Fellow and lead author of the study. “This trend is also not changing with the worsening economic situation in Russia – the main labour migration destination for Kyrgyz migrants.”
The study has been conducted in seven project locations across Kyrgyzstan and provides an overview and impact of the labour market, important aspects of the small or medium sized enterprise sector, and an assessment of youth employment opportunities.
Apart from the general trends of the youth employment, the study analyses similarities and differences in the northern and southern parts of the country, as well as differences between urban, rural and gender contexts.
The findings and insights help to define the main gaps in the employment of youth, avenues for employability (products and services) and the existing trends in youth employment. They also help to identify the targeted key products and services deemed important for the youth labour market in all project locations. A map indicating the gaps and interlinkages of the youth labour market, as well as a set of recommendations, were developed by the study authors, and helps to identify potential areas of intervention.
A significant gap that was identified is that there is an existing educational mismatch between curriculum and labour market requirements. The study suggests that the existing education system needs to be reframed towards the needs of the youth, and an analysis of the efficiency of budget spending is required for effective reallocation, not on the basis of existing infrastructure, but in areas where most young people reside.
Further research into the youth labour market should take into account the future growth of the population and its proportion of youth for the coming decades.
The study was conducted by the University of Central Asia’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration in the framework of the "Demilgeluu Jashtar" (“Enhancing Employability and Civic Engagement of Youth in Kyrgyzstan”) project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). It focuses on increasing civic participation of youth and preparing them for the labour market by creating various opportunities. The project is implemented by UCA, the Mountain Societies Development Support Programme in Kyrgyzstan, International Debate Education Association in Central Asia, Association of Social Entrepreneurs and the Aga Khan Foundation.