On 20 May 2021, the CAREC Institute and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Beijing office have conducted a webinar to discuss preliminary findings of a joint research on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) which was launched in 2019 to harvest and share ADB’s and other development partner operational knowledge and policy lessons on TVET accumulated and learned in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the PRC’s own policy interventions and TVET-related innovations, and assessment of the selected CAREC member country TVET needs (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan). The TVET practitioners and policy experts from member countries attended the event and shared best practices, practical operational knowledge, and options to optimize TVET programs innovatively.
Previously, the 3rd CAREC Think Tanks Development Forum has addressed the issue of TVET in CAREC in July 2018. The forum deliberated that all CAREC member countries have experienced significant demographic transformation over the past decades, some countries reaching the aged population profile, some others experiencing the youth bulge. The first group of countries will potentially face labor shortages and will need to boost labor productivity by constantly improving the skill levels of their domestic labor force. Under the second group of countries, the youth will move through the working age pipeline and will need to contribute to the country’s economic growth if adequate human development policies are cultivated.
In 2020, the CAREC Institute Visiting Fellow Program has contributed a research on labor migration and the role of local authorities in Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan) to leverage migration’s developmental potential. The paper analyzed the large-scale migration flows in Central Asia. Unemployment, low wages, and limited opportunities for improving livelihoods at home were identified as the most prominent push factors driving emigration. The paper also discussed the notion of forsaken schooling as one of the effects of labor migration.
The demographic trends and labor force projections carry significant implications for the CAREC countries. Regional level solutions might entail greater mobility of workers across the skills spectrum, joint certification programs, regional qualification frameworks, mutual recognition arrangements, TVET policy reforms and accreditation systems, update or revision of legislative and institutional frameworks, upgrade of TVET infrastructure, etc.
The results of the CAREC Institute and ADB joint research on TVET, also ensuing policy recommendations aim at improving sector reforms in TVET and strengthening institutional capacities of key ministries of CAREC member countries. The publication is scheduled for release by the end of 2021.