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In Kazakhstan: Better Training for a Better Economy

October 15, 2014


World Bank Group

The World Bank supports Kazakhstan in improving workforce productivity in key sectors and enhancing skills development capacity to meet the demands of important industries and businesses. The Technical and Vocational Education Modernization Project brings long-term benefits through the improved employability of graduates, as the quality and relevance of technical and vocational education improve, and the supply of specialists demanded in the labor market increases.

Students at the Pavlodar Chemical-Mechanical College are learning how to maintain and repair oil refining equipment, about road repair, and about quality control for chemical compounds. They learn on-the-job, as it were, says Roman Koshkin, a student in the oil-refining program. “When you first come to the refinery site you see it’s a big enterprise, it’s just breathtaking!” he says. “You see the technological process, and understand that its quite different from what we’ve been told about.”

The hands-on training aims to give students the technical skills they need to move right into the workforce, says Lyudmila Pak, of the Pavlodar Refinery. “Of course the best students will be hired by our refinery. During the traineeship all our specialists and heads of the responsible divisions are watching these students: how they work, how they manifest themselves as future employees, not only as professionals but as interpersonally competent staff so that in the future the student could become our employee.”

Natalya Oleshko, a teacher at the technical college, agrees. “I think there will be 100% employment of these students. I see it in their eyes, they really like it.”


" I think there will be 100% employment of these students. I see it in their eyes, they really like it. "
Natalya Oleshko

Natalya Oleshko

Teacher at technical college

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These students at the Pavlodar Chemical-Mechanical College are learning job skills for work in industries ranging from oil and gas production to road repair. 

World Bank

On-the-Job Learning

This is all part of an ambitious plan to modernize the Kazakh economy. Kazakhstan’s strong economic growth over the last decade exposed some skill gaps in the country’s workforce. So now the government, with support from the World Bank, is trying to train a new generation of skilled technical workers to help propel the economy in the future.  

Employers say there is a real need. “Staffing is the most important part of our industry, “says Marlen Sikhayev, who’s with the Association of Mining and Metallurgic Enterprises. “That’s why we are focused on this. Kazakhstan, within the last 20 years, moved from having no money in the budget, but we have it now. We’ve been able to invest in equipment, but everyone understands that workers are what matters.”

He says his industry needs skilled welders, geologists, and electricians, jobs that have sometimes been filled by foreign workers with advanced training. Kazakhstan has moved away from a Soviet-era planned economy to a competitive, demand-driven one. And a well-trained work force is key to satisfying the needs of this new, diversifying economy.


" Of course the best students will be hired by our refinery. During the traineeship all our specialists and heads of the responsible divisions are watching these students: how they work, how they manifest themselves as future employees, not only as professionals but as interpersonally competent staff so that in the future the student could become our employee. "
Lyudmila Pak

Lyudmila Pak

Pavlodar Refinery Representative

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Kazakhstan’s economic growth over the last decade exposed some skill gaps in the country’s workforce. 

World Bank

Setting Standards

Now comes the long business of setting standards, establishing uniform national certification programs, and improving technical education across the country. Tatyana Krahaleva, the deputy head of the technical control department at Pavlodar Refinery says she works hard to maintain standards. “Twice a week I come to the college laboratory and together with teachers we do testing. I also consult them and teach the methodic of testing so that they are able to teach students accordingly.”


" Staffing is the most important part of our industry. That’s why we are focused on this. Kazakhstan, within the last 20 years, moved from having no money in the budget, but we have it now. We’ve been able to invest in equipment, but everyone understands that workers are what matters. "
Marlen Sikhayev

Marlen Sikhayev

Association of Mining and Metallurgic Enterprises

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Now, with support from the World Bank, the government is working to improve training and standards for evaluating that training, in order to modernize the workforce.

World Bank

Kadyrbek Boribekov, of Kasipkor Holding, has been working for years on improving vocational and technical education. He says clear, modern standards are key to preparing the next generation of Kazakh workers. “We’ve attracted a lot of investment in recent years, but the problem is that companies wouldn’t hire our workers because they didn’t have the qualifications, because our skill sets were too low. So, we thought, if our people had the training, they could be hired,” he says.

Currently, 68 technical colleges have grants to improve their teaching and training for jobs ranging from food production to tourism to manufacturing. A well-trained work force, Kazakh officials say, means a highly productive, efficient work force in the near future, and is the way to move Kazakhstan’s economy to the next level, away from an emphasis on extractive industries and towards a well-rounded, diversified future.

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68
technical colleges in Kazakhstan received grants to improve their teaching and training.