|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The Government of the Kyrgyz Republic recently approved its Medium-Term Development Program, 2012- 2014, aiming for an average growth rate of 6% per annum anchored on the robust expansion of seven priority sectors that are expected to drive the economy and create jobs for the growing number of unemployed, particularly among youths (in 2010, 17.1% of female youths and 12.2% of male youths were unemployed). The seven priority sectors (construction, mining, energy, tourism, textiles, and garment, land transport, and agriculture/agro-processing) jointly constitute 54% of gross domestic product and 63% of formal employment. However, many enterprises experience difficulties in finding skilled workers, underscoring the mismatch between the outputs of the education and training sector and labor market needs. This shortage of skilled labor is a binding constraint on economic growth.
The project will help remove this constraint by supporting the modernization of the TVET system in rural and urban areas. It will focus on the seven priority sectors and involve employers in selecting the key occupations and determining the skills required for these occupations. It will help meet the needs of the labor market.
TVET system is composed of primary TVET, designed to develop skilled workers and craftsmen, and secondary TVET, designed to develop technicians and middle-level staff. The enrollment size in the TVET system is small, resulting in significant underutilization of existing capacity. Other key issues include the lack of quality and relevance of the TVET system due to outdated curriculum structure and contents, aging teachers and outdated training, inadequate and obsolete equipment, weak institutional management, insufficient funding, and weak links with industry. In addition, there is limited coordination between the different types of TVET providers and between managing organizations in terms of planning and programs, which contributes to a fragmented TVET system.
The project will build on the achievements under the first Vocational Education and Skills Development Project (VESDP), which is supporting reforms to the primary TVET system. A key achievement under VESDP is the introduction of the competency-based training (CBT) methodology in 25 assisted vocational schools for 18 priority occupations, along with the improvement of the teaching and learning environment. The VESDP successfully introduced the full cycle of the CBT methodology. In May 2012, training for the pilot occupation "seamstress" was completed in 9 vocational schools with a total of 211 trainees, of which 185 were assessed and 174 passed the independent assessment conducted by accredited competency assessors from the textile and garment industry. The industry hired 85% of the graduates immediately. The initial offering of modular CBT courses for all 18 occupations in 25 vocational schools started in July 2012, after installation and training on the use of the new training equipment. In addition, the VESDP supported the first step in the rationalization of the primary TVET system, consolidating 32 of 110 vocational schools in urban areas into 25 regional resource centers, focusing on the development of skills needed by local industries and overseas markets. It also supported the rehabilitation of these regional resource centers and the provision of new training equipment in 158 workshops.
The project will build on these achievements, and the strong foundation established in delivering demand-driven and relevant training programs. Support will expand to primary TVET in rural areas and include secondary TVET, training middle-level skilled labor for the seven priority sectors, including information communication technology as a cross-cutting priority amongst these sectors. The project will sustain momentum among the assisted vocational schools toward greater financial autonomy and sustainability by increasing their capacity to generate non-state-budget revenues, particularly through training fees.
The project will complement the ongoing Investment Climate Improvement Program of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which includes policy actions to leverage TVET reforms. On 26 March 2012, the Decree on the National Professional Skills Development Council (NPSDC) was approved under subprogram 2 of the Investment Climate Improvement Program. NPSDC provides a framework for policymakers, employers, and key stakeholders to ensure that skills development efforts in the country are coordinated and responsive to labor market needs. The Agency for Vocational Education (AVE) in the Ministry of Youth, Labor, and Employment serves as NPSDC Secretariat.
The project is consistent with national priorities and with ADB's country strategy. Lessons learned from the VESDP will be acted on, including the need to mainstream
project activities into AVE, to introduce competitive selection to support teaching and learning environments, and to factor in the characteristics of internal and external migration when developing TVET interventions. Under the Project, ADB will work closely with other donors under the Education Sector-Wide Aprroach Program, and serve as the lead agency for TVET reform.