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RB ASIA conducted analysis of youth aspiration in Uzbekistan for World Bank

The government of Uzbekistan has been carrying out large-scale reforms to transition to a market economy since 2017. The purpose of these market reforms is to stimulate economic growth by removing some critical constraints, including, in particular, liberalizing the exchange rate, reducing the role of the state in the economy, eliminating subsidies and tax incentives for individual enterprises and others.

International experience with similar reforms shows that vulnerable populations and newcomers to the labor market are particularly at risk of adverse effects.

Youth employment is one of the most important issues on the agenda of the government of Uzbekistan, as it creates challenges to be addressed in the short term, while at the same time it is a key factor in long-term economic growth.

In the short term, the economy will find it difficult to absorb the growing labor supply (the government estimates that 500,000 young people enter the labor market each year), however, according to official estimates, job growth is still much slower. In addition to the problem of job creation, skill gaps and mismatches represent a key constraint on access to employment. International data show that in the labor market, skills gaps are often higher among young people, as they lack the practical skills and work experience needed by private sector employers (World Bank STEP Employers Analysis).

In order to support the government in identifying the needs of young people in the labor market, through a qualitative analysis of youth aspiration in finding a job and their disappointments, the international consulting company RB ASIA, commissioned by the World Bank, conducted an analysis among young people in Uzbekistan.

The study was conducted from November 2019 to May 2020. The study involved young people aged 18 to 30 years of 4 regions of Uzbekistan: Samarkand, Fergana, Khorezm regions and Tashkent city. Moreover, the study involved a number of experts responsible and knowledgeable about the problems of youth in the field of employment, in particular representatives of Employment Assistance Center, the Youth Union, the Women's Committee, Teachers of secondary schools, Educational Centers at the Employment Assistance Center, Makhalla, Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The research was conducted by the method of focus group discussions for young people and in-depth interviews with representatives of the above organizations.

The study revealed that the aspirations of young people in the field of employment are formed on the basis of two factors: a) professional and career interests, ambitions; b) perception of the situation on the labor market, especially in terms of labor demand. As a rule, the choice of a future profession or job by young people is often based on the first factor. This thesis is also relevant for the research participants. However, it should be recognized that in conditions of limited opportunities for employment and self-employment, young people, although not quickly, adjust their plans, priorities in the field of employment, choice of profession or occupation.

During an analysis, young people identified the following criteria in terms of work, choice of profession and occupation:

  • to get a high-paying job with good working conditions;

  • to do business, start own business;

  • to work in favorite profession;

  • to get an education in foreign universities;

  • to work in prestigious and honorable jobs;

  • to work in law enforcement agencies.

However, it should be recognized that such ambitions and plans are inherent in a minority of survey participants or school graduates who do not yet have an idea of ​​the real situation on the labor market and their opportunities. The analysis participants, working youth and unemployed youth are limited to more pressing needs and plans for work and employment.

Based on the results of the study, the main priorities of young people related to future work and employment can be ranked as follows:

  • wages

  • working conditions / work schedule

  • favorite profession / occupation

  • acceptable distance to work / office

  • good team / good management attitude

  • official work / work experience

It turned out that other parameters of work are not very important for young people.

Of course, for different groups of respondents, the structure of preferences may look slightly different. For example, for girls and school graduates, their favorite job / profession is more important than for other groups, the working conditions and work schedule are more important for girls.

As a result of the analysis, conclusions were drawn, here are some of them:

  1. There are no significant differences in the aspirations, plans, expectations for the remuneration of rural and urban youth, with the exception of some differences among the youth of the city of Tashkent.

  2. Training courses for training and retraining of the unemployed have practically no effect on the unemployment rate, because there are no vacancies for retrained specialties. This also applies to KOICA courses. The unemployed do not know about them. However, the situation may change soon, because about 30 former vocational colleges were transferred to the disposal of the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations and on their basis it is planned to create training centers for vocational training and retraining of unemployed youth.

  3. Young people do not know about the legally approved benefits in the field of employment and youth employment, this indicates the need to strengthen information work to familiarize young people with them. Representatives of organizations whose functions include issues of employment and youth employment also do not have information about these benefits.

  4. According to the participants, a long and unsuccessful job search can lead to the following consequences:

  • going abroad in search of work

  • disappointment with oneself and society

  • theft / crime

  • to family strife / divorce

  • forced marriage / early marriage

  • formation of dependent behavior

  • socialization

5. School graduates are becoming the most vulnerable category in the labor market, because they do not have any qualifications and documents confirming it. Previously, there were training and production classes in schools, but they have not been held for the last year. The vocational guidance system is not properly established in schools. The functions of career guidance are assigned to school psychologists who do not have anyskills or professional training in career guidance for young people.

The analysis results were provided to the project beneficiary - the World Bank to study and contribute to solving the problem of youth employment together with the Government of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

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