Since the disintegration of the USSR in the early 1990s, the Tajik economy has suffered under political crisis and civil war, which has resulted in low economic growth and made Tajikistan be the poorest country in the CIS. The relatively high level of poverty combined with high unemployment levels and low demand for unskilled labour has contributed to workers increasingly having to look outside the national borders for employment opportunities. There are an estimated 600,000 labour migrants from Tajikistan, mainly working in Russia and Kazakhstan. A large number of them are seasonal workers and close to 60 per cent of them do not have any professional qualifications. This fact leaves them no choice but to take unskilled and poorly paid jobs with hazardous working conditions. In addition, a significant number of these workers end up, or are at risk of ending up, as victims of human trafficking.
In 2007, the ILO initiated a project on the prevention of human trafficking through community development. The project is implemented in cooperation with the UNDP. The main target area for the implementation of community-based prevention measures is Gharm. The project is based on a three-pronged logic: (1) protection of migrant workers from abuse during their recruitment and final employment, (2) supporting women who became single heads of households, and (3) facilitating the reintegration of returned migrant workers. A key component of the project is to design policy interventions in this field, for the purpose of developing vocational training measures, micro-credit and business training programmes for the beneficiaries of this project.
Research on the labour market assessment
Within the framework of the project “Community development through employment creation and improved migration management”, financed by the United Nations Trust Fund on Human Security (UNTFHS), ILO has prepared the study on the labour market assessment concerning Tajikistan with the assistance of international and national experts. The objective of the study is to provide a comprehensive gender sensitive overview of the current labour market situation, including trends, economic opportunities, services and policies, in the pilot region along with identification of the skill gap preventing migrant workers and their households from successfully pursuing productive economic opportunities.
The experience of a number of countries shows that both in advanced and developed economies a well functioning vocational education and training system constitutes an important element of economic development, contributing to social cohesion and political stability. The Tajik society is currently characterised by labour market challenges with high levels of unemployment, and limited economic opportunities for the lower strata of society. Under these circumstances, vocational education and training represents a major avenue for workers for earning a higher pay, in particular for first time job seekers and the unemployed.
Research on the vocational education and training
In the years following Tajikistan’s independence, the Vocational Education and Training (VET) system received little attention from the government or the international donor community. Financing sharply decreased and the deterioration of salary levels caused staff to seek other employment. Furthermore, material and technical resources were not upgraded and have largely become obsolete. The entry requirements have been gradually been lowered in response to lack of students wishing to pursue a vocational education. Consequently, the number of professional-technical vocational schools and the number of students in these schools have been falling.
Within the framework of the project “Central Asia Labour Migration project”, financed by the EU, IOM in partnership with ILO has prepared the study on the vocational education and training concerning Tajikistan with the assistance of international and national experts. The objective of the study is to develop an improved curriculum for vocational training, with specific focus on the VET facilities in the Rasht valley, to facilitate better management of labour migration.
Objectives of the workshop
The objective of the workshop is to discuss the two studies, with a view to developing joint conclusions, recommendations and modalities for future implementation.
Invitees to the workshop include ILO tripartite partners, the State Migration Service, representative of the President Office, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, experts from Rasht valley, researchers and academics, International Organizations, Embassies, and the media.