Context: Acquiring knowledge and skills relevant to the labour market is a challenge in Kyrgyzstan, with youth frequently citing outdated material and teaching methods as primary concerns. Related to this issue, the youth unemployment rate was 14.1 per cent in 2014 and many young people who are seeking employment work in the informal sector, which is subject to poor working conditions and precarity. The large-scale protests of 2010 in the country left more than 400,000 people displaced, many of whom where youth.
Implementation of programme/ initiative: The International Youth Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, in partnership with USAID, created Jasa.kg in 2011 with the goals of improving youth’s employability through skill development and increased civic engagement. The initiative’s four main objectives are to prepare youth for the labour market, foster active citizenship, create a culture of positive youth development and supply orphans with vital life skills. One way the initiative achieves these objectives is by promoting entrepreneurship through a variety of channels including lectures, camps, competitions and mentorships. Funding was provided by USAID at US$4.2 million.
Main challenges: Kyrgyzstan’s path since independence has not been without issues, many of which affect youth and thus any project dealing with youth empowerment in the country. These challenges include youth’s limited access to social services, economic opportunities and channels for voicing their opinion. As a result, distrust towards politics is common among Kyrgyz youth and thus substantial efforts are required to create the environment necessary to execute programmes such as Jasa.
Results achieved: As a consequence of the initiative, 900 youth have received comprehensive entrepreneurship training, 29 youth have earned vouchers to start their own business and 21 youth have benefited from mentorships. Additionally, 882 youth have undergone training to increase employment related skills and 184 have secured internship placements. Furthermore, 1,267 disadvantaged youth have received life skills training with a focus on social adaptability.
Moving Forward: The initiative aims to train 4,000 youth in employable skills and entrepreneurship, which will require expanding coverage. To create a sustainable programme it would be useful to replicate the initiative in schools and vocational training centres in the country.
Replicability: Jasa.kg set out to address the gap in skills development in Kyrgyzstan by exposing youth to activities that enriched their understanding of entrepreneurship and civic participation. Engaging and training youth by teaching skills related to entrepreneurship and life skills creates an enabling environment that allows for a smoother school-to-work transition.
Jasa.kg factsheet, available from: https://www.usaid.gov/kyrgyz-republic/fact-sheets/jasakg-youth-project
International Youth Foundation, Jasa.kg initiative, available from: http://www.iyfnet.org/initiatives/jasakg
Date: September 22, 2016