In the Kyrgyz Republic, known as Kyrgyzstan, for years it was the Soviet state that decided the professions and how many young women and men needed to be trained for them.
But the transition to a free market economy has revealed a painful reality: a tremendous mismatch between the skills people have and the kind of jobs that are actually available.
Erkinbek Omurov, State Secretary Kyrgyz State Vocational Education Agency, Government of Kyrgyz Republic
Kyrgyzstan is overflowing with qualified university graduates who can’t get jobs. Manual labourers can get a job right away.
Thousands, mostly men, left for jobs in Russia and the West, their families surviving only on the money they could send back home. Today Kyrgyzstan is becoming a country of “left-behinds” - unemployed women, the elderly and young children, and a workforce limited to only the most basic of jobs.
A Dutch funded ILO project is helping the Kyrgyz Government revisit the country’s youth employment policy by developing strong vocational training programmes that retrain people, especially women, in jobs that match the realities today.
Dilorom Holmatova is breaking all the stereotypes: unemployed, no higher education, and living in a city plagued by unemployment and poverty.
After going through the International Labour Organization’s training course “Start and Improve Your Business”, Dilorom opened the first curtain making workshop in town. It’s been four years now, and it’s going so well, she now employs four seamstresses. Dilorom doesn’t want it to stop there.
Dilorom Holmatova, Curtain Maker
There are more than 300 single mothers in here. And they have no one to help them. They are not working, because they can’t put their children in kindergarten - this is very expensive. If I could get an opportunity to train them I would.
Walter Verhoeven, ILO
In Kyrgyzstan, the ILO works on decent employment opportunities for all. And we do that together with other UN agencies, with our partners, the government, employers and trade unions. We therefore have in the project different components: the promotion of youth employment policies, local and integrated youth employment strategies, providing labour market information and skills training, entrepreneurship training, career guidance.
Nasiba Halilova also has high hopes. Her dream is to open a kindergarten; the ILO seminar showed her how to calculate costs and develop a business plan.
Nasiba Halilova, Kindergarten Teacher
This seminar is very stimulating. They encourage you to develop an idea and then teach you how to realise it.
More young people are interested now in the vocational skills that are in greater demand. The Modular Skills approach developed by the ILO allows young people to gain professional qualifications in a shorter period of time.
Suyun Maitikova, Deputy Director Lyceum 43 Bishkek
These young people get three qualifications during their 10 months here. The first one they get is as a plasterer. After another three months they get their second qualification, in laying tile, and then they get their final one as a wood joiner. Thus in 10 months’ time they get three professions that are in demand now.
Dilorom is planning to expand her business and will hire more seamstresses. It means new jobs, and new hope, for unemployed women in her town.
Dilorom Holmatova, Curtain Maker
Now I can definitely call myself a business woman!
The “left-behind” women who once seemed to have no chance are now thriving – inspiring other women, and re-building their country’s future… one stitch at a time.