Digital skills and youth employment opportunities in the digital economy in the Kyrgyz Republic

Is funded by the Russian Federation and implemented by UNDP in the Kyrgyz Republic in cooperation with national partners in accordance with the frame partnership agreement between UNDP and Russia.

Project overview:

The project is aimed to provide the foundations for sustainable long term growth of target populations, job market, digital economy, private sector and Kyrgyzstan’s economy as a whole.

Given the emerging digital economy sector and the region’s unemployment issues especially concerning women and young people, the Project works in cooperation with the Government of Kyrgyzstan, Government Ministries, academia private sector experts and businesses to expand digital skills education and support the growth of digital jobs and business. The Project focuses on creating more skillsets and economic opportunities for target populations at high-risk of unemployment aimed at reducing their vulnerability in short and long terms to better adapt to changing industries.

Kyrgyzstan has a rather young population (median age of 24 years and 60% of total population is of working age), so the demand for jobs is high in the country. Women and young people have higher unemployment rates compared to middle-aged men.  ⅕ of the population, of which young men are the majority, have to seek for the job opportunities abroad. They mostly occupy relatively low paid jobs in services (retail, catering, cleaning, utilities etc.) and construction in Russia and other countries. Experts’ surveys show that the number of Kyrgyz citizens working abroad is over 800,000 (30% are women). In 2017, the Government of Kyrgyzstan announced the launch of a nation-wide program for digital transformation, “Taza Koom” (Smart Nation) aims for a transparent state, knowledge-based economy, raise living standards in Kyrgyzstan, and improve business environment. Taza Koom is a key component of the long-term National Sustainable Development Vision focused on enhancing human capital and innovations in harmony with the environment by 2040. The Goal of the Project is to help the Government of Kyrgyzstan to strengthen the enabling environment and systems which would advance opportunities for youth and especially young women in digital economy, support them to better integrate into global development community and create sustainable jobs. Coherent interventions suggested by the Project’s design will be laying the ground to the following core objectives:

Objective 1: Enhancing the capacity of formal education system and applying new educational standards for digital skills to deliver demand-driven curriculum to better prepare youth for digital economy. This will be achieved by establishing new digital skills standards and strengthening institutional capabilities of the formal education system (technical universities and vocational lyceums in Bishkek and Osh) to equip youth with job-ready, transferrable digital skills including basic, intermediate and advanced digital entrepreneurial and soft skills, as well as enhancing  digital competencies of teachers to better integrate digital skills development in education. Under this component, the Project will work with the Government of Kyrgyzstan for formulation of the National Digital Skills Development Strategy and Action Plan.

Objective 2: Creating platform for innovative partnerships with the private sector to support initiatives that accelerate growth of digital jobs and businesses in the country. This will be achieved through partnership with the private sector to establish the first ever IT hub in Osh City which will provide space for youth from Osh, Batken and Jalalabat Provinces to gain IT skills and connect them to employment and business development opportunities in digital economy. The IT hub will serve as a catalyst to boost innovations, creating networks for digital start-ups, digital experts, including those from the Russian Federation, private sector and financial institutions to ensure access to venturing and other forms of capital.

Interim results:

Component 1: Improved digital skills development in the formal education system

  •  Series of in-depth market studies and consultations with experts and the private sector regarding global trends of digital markets, digital jobs and recommendations of required set of skills was done;
  • Developed National Strategy on Digital Skills and Competencies;
  • Developed recommendations for new educational standards and curriculums in higher education system for building fundamental and emerging digital skills to meet growing demand of the digital economy, including digital inclusion standards for the disabled and girls;
  •  Implemented modernization of equipment and the introduction of new ‘digitalized’ teaching standards at the Kyrgyz State Technical University named after I. Razzakov (Bishkek) and Osh Technological University named after M.M Adyshev (Osh);
  •  Registered for educational services Google G-Suite for Education and Microsoft 365 for Education for KSTU and OshTU;
  • Connected and integrated of existing systems with educational services Google G-Suite for Education and Microsoft 365 for Education for KSTU and OshTU;
  •  Installed and configured of Windows server 2012 R2 Active Directory and Certification Authority services to automate and manage user accounts for KSTU and OshTU
  • Set up and connecting to the international Eduroam service through KG Eduroam FLR;
  • Configured and connect test WI-FI access points to the local Eduroam service of for KSTU and OshTU
  • Installed and configured Google Cloud Directory Sync services to synchronize for KSTU and OshTU users with Google G-Suite for Education; KSTU connected to Oracle Academy Education System.

Component 2: Established IT Hub in Osh City for young entrepreneurs and application of new learning models in non-formal educational settings

  • Supported a series of hackathon/hackfest events to engage young computer programmers, interface designers, private sector project managers and subject-matter experts to collaborate on the designing of new business scalable solutions and software products;
  • Carried out targeted country-wide awareness-raising campaigns for identified target underprivileged groups, with focus on rural girls, young women and youth with special needs, to inform benefits of digital technology and skills, and to encourage the use of digital services.

Expected results:

  • Conducted online webinars, business trainings for all interested beneficiaries on digital entrepreneurships;
  • Established IT Hub in Osh City for young entrepreneurs and application of new learning models in non-formal educational settings;
  •  Registered and enrolled more than 10 000 users to Coursera courses;
  •  Prepared 12 video reels on “Digital Leaders” among digital experts and disseminated in National TV and YouTube channels;
  • Prepared short 27 mins video film called “Jyldyz” and “DigiKyzdar”.

Status: Active

Start date: February 2019

Projected end date: June 2021

Geographic coverage: Bishkek and Osh cities

Subject area: Digital skills

Project coordinator: Kanagat Alyshbayev

Partners: Government’s Office, Ministry of Education, State Committee of Information Technology and Communications, the Ministry of Economy, High Technology Park, private sector and academia.

Funding Source: The Government of the Russian Federation

Budget: 1 mln USD