ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s three-year Support for Vocational Education and Training programme wrapped up with a conference in Astana on Sept. 27 after helping more than 1,000 participants attend training sessions, apprenticeships and overseas study courses.
Launched in October 2010, the project aimed at stimulating the growth of Kazakhstan’s economy and securing the demand for labour by improving the vocational education system in the country. It was funded by the European Union and supported by the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), the world’s leading provider of international cooperation services for sustainable development, and GOPA, the leading German development consulting firm, as well as by the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan.
The education and training programme included six mandatory components. The first component was strategic development. The project supported the activities of the National Council for Vocational Education and Training, focusing on close cooperation with subordinate bodies in different regions of the country and offering permanent consultations for its representatives.
The second component embraced qualification frameworks for industries such as agriculture, engineering and the oil and gas sector. The project helped develop qualification standards as well as establish new educational programmes.
Improving certification processes was the third component of the project, which proposed establishing a new assessment system for students and imposing control mechanisms in order to ensure the quality of vocational education.
The fourth component covered six educational programmes—machine operator, welder, farmer-engineer, agricultural service engineer, oil and gas extraction operator and repairer of oil and gas equipment.
The fifth component, managing educational institutions, meant introducing Kazakhstan’s teachers and trainers to new, efficient educational methodologies already being used successfully in the European Union. The sixth component offered six-week apprenticeships overseas for Kazakhstan’s managers and tutors.
The project was based on a cooperative model aimed at the distribution of responsibility for the development of vocational education and training. Responsibility was to be be distributed among government agencies, business and its representatives and trade unions. The model was also intended to increase practical training in the field to 40-60 percent, depending on the available equipment and workshops. This training can be implemented at schools or enterprises. Thomas Lux, head of the project, says the project has been a success, as Kazakhstan’s experts have gained new and useful knowledge and learned from the best practices in the sphere of vocational education. “In general, 98 seminars and training sessions were held for 1,560 participants. 20 Kazakhstan experts attended two apprenticeships organised in Germany and 41 attendees had a chance to take part in a 12-day study trip held in Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany,” Lux said. The contacts created between Kazakhstan’s and European managers and tutors are another advantage of the project, which will simplify the coordination work that may take place in the future.
In light of Kazakhstan’s shortage of qualified workers, projects like this one are intended to improve the labour market by helping meet the demand for qualified labour in the country, as well as prepare the country for a dual education system. Dual education systems are used in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, the Netherlands and France. They are based on combined apprenticeships at companies and vocational education at a vocational school together in one course. The dual educational system allows for lifelong learning, which is crucial for those who work in the industrial sphere and have to master the use of emerging new technologies. For Kazakhstan’s workers, this opportunity is extremely important, as most of the country’s plants and factories need to be modernised in order to meet European standards.
In addition to European and German support , the project also included the support of governmental bodies and institutions during implementation of the State Programme of Education Development for 2011-2020 and the State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development for 2010-2014.