In June 2022, EU launched its first-ever regional project dedicated to Central Asia - Dialogue and Action for Resourceful Youth in Central Asia (henceforth, DARYA). The overarching objective of it is to support the post-COVID recovery in Central Asia by 'fostering improved employability of young women and men in the region through inclusive and labour-market oriented skills'. Specific objectives concern improving the quality and inclusiveness of education, training and employment systems, and facilitating dialogue and cooperation at national and regional levels. In line with the 2019 EU-Central Asia Strategy, the project targets Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Planned for five years, project activities have been allocated a budget of 10 million euro and will be implemented by the European Training Foundation (ETF). PPMI Group was commissioned by ETF to provide evidence-based support for the inception phase of the DARYA project, i.e. map the state of play of developments in five countries, stakeholders involved in them, and, based on it, help detail the intervention logic and action plan for DARYA. Throughout the assignment our focus was on three thematic areas of DARYA: 1) forward-looking skills development through better evidence analysis of education and training outcomes and skills needs, 2) stakeholder-driven flexible and permeable approaches to qualifications at national and regional levels to allow equal opportunities for all, and 3) flexible and inclusive teaching and learning approaches, based on learning outcomes and relevant to the labour market.
As part of the study, PPMI with partners and national experts:
- Carried out extensive desk research and a selection of interviews on data sources and instruments countries use to collect data on education, labour market and skills needs, policies aimed at supporting labour market integration of unemployed people, informal workers and NEETs as well as career progression of formal employees and self-employed people, national qualification systems and their different elements, including occupational standards, NQFs, recognition of informal and non-formal learning, and, finally, existing approaches to teaching and learning such as key competences, flexible and authentic learning, and institutional/policy framework for educational innovations, including such aspects as VET provider autonomy, centres of excellence, etc. In addition, we mapped stakeholders and projects (national and international) related to any of the three areas of DARYA. National level mapping formed basis for five country reports featuring status quo of developments and key challenges and opportunities in each area of DARYA.
- Conducted comparative analysis and synthesised main developments at regional level. This included identifying differences and commonalities among five countries and suggesting areas for regional cooperation, peer learning and networking. Regional level analysis formed basis for the regional report.
- Organised two workshops with core ETF staff and three thematic consultations with ETF experts to present research findings and facilitate further development of the DARYA project, including its logic of intervention and action plan.