The Soros Foundation Kazakhstan recently presented in Almaty a study on the problem of mass youth migration trying to draw additional attention to the problems remaining in this area.
In its study, the Soros Foundation Kazakhstan said: “In Almaty, every year the number of young migrants increases and this reality should not be ignored. Their problems should be resolved on the spot, rather than hoping to send them back to the villages. Instead, the development of programmes aimed at addressing the problems of registration, professional education and job creation will be more effective.”
As a result of its study, the foundation made the recommendations which are primarily addressed at the local agencies in Almaty. A number of recommendations are addressed to the Government, the National Bank, civil society and international organizations.
On one hand, internal migration occurs regularly in societies as they urbanise, and urbanisation is considered by scientists and public opinion in general to be an objective of the development of a modern society and a result of the ambition of people to live more comfortably. Migration has positive effects not only on increasing the population, but also on qualitative characteristics of the region.
In Kazakhstan, every year about 300,000 citizens are actively migrating domestically. Of these, more than half are young people who want to go to university or find a job with high salary. The concentration of universities in Astana and Almaty cities, a large volume of domestic and foreign investments, greater economic opportunities and wide choice of employment cause a large influx of young people in these cities. For example, the population of Astana has more than doubled since 1997.
According to the Statistics Agency of Kazakhstan, Almaty and Astana cities and the Almaty, Atyrau and Mangystau regions have been the most attractive areas of internal migration in the last decade.
On the other hand, there are negative sides to internal migration. The youth leave areas unfavourable to life. This creates shortages of professional staff and a decline in agriculture; the regions lose their economic value. Internal migration is a complex indicator of the economic and social situation of a particular region. After moving, migrants are faced with difficulties in their new cities. An absence of official registration complicates access to some social services.
To support and create favourable conditions for rural youth, the government developed the Aul Zhastary (Rural Youth) Nationwide Initiatives Plan for 2009-2011, which provided for regional studies to determine the real problems of rural youth.
The state programme ”With Diploma to Village” was created to effectively promote the influx of human resources to rural areas, create conditions to overcome staff shortages in the social sector and improve living standards. The programme provides social support to young specialists who come to work and live in rural areas, in particular providing soft loans for housing and 25 percent increases in salary and installation allowances. From 2009 this programme spent 16 billion tenge for 24,000 young professionals: 75 percent of them are working in education, 20 percent in health care and the remaining five percent in culture, social protection and sport. For 2012-2014, the state budget provides 21.6 billion tenge to attract more than 16,000 young professionals.
The Youth Practice” directive has been successfully implemented within Employment Programme 2020. It aims at creating conditions for young people to gain their first experiences in their careers, promoting employment and competitiveness in the labor market. Youth Practice is conducted at any enterprise, institution and organisation regardless of its ownership. The government pays the salaries of participants for up to six months.
To provide housing for young families, the government plans to build 1.2 million square metres of affordable housing through 2020.
The total amount of funding for the national projects Aul Zhastary, With Diploma to Village, Youth Practice and Zhasyl El (Green Country) is 37.7 billion tenge.
The youth wing of the Nur Otan People’s Democratic Party, Zhas Otan, tries to attract young people to socially and economically significant issues. The “Prosperity of Village–Prosperity of Kazakhstan” initiative brought together more than 700,000 young Kazakhstanis, who planted 640,000 saplings, cleared lakes, rivers and watercourses and scraped 450 tons of trash. Zhas Otan developed the new strategy “Zhastar – Otanga” (Young People to the Homeland), which identifies 11 directions for support and involvement of young people to achieve the objectives of industrial innovation development and increasing stability and security in the country.
According to the Statistics Agency of Kazakhstan, the level of migration from rural to urban areas in 2012 compared with 2011 declined by 4.5 thousand people. Agency Chairman Alikhan Smailov colligates these indicators with the social policy of state. “I attribute this to the improvement of the socio-economic situation in the country and the government’s social policy implemented in rural areas,” he said.