NU experts work on project to reduce number of unemployed youth in Kazakhstan

Researchers at the NU Graduate School of Education (GSE) start a project to reduce the number of unemployed youth in Kazakhstan. A grant from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, administered by USAID through the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) program, will help bring this project to fruition.

The GSE researchers’ application on youth issues assessment and experimental innovative solutions was among 29 projects selected in two rounds of the competition. It was very competitive – 474 applications were received from all over the world.

The main goal of the project is to reduce the number of young people in Kazakhstan who are not working or studying (NEET – Not in Employment, Education, and Training). The recommendations on reaching and reintegrating young people, developed by the researchers, can be taken by the Government of Kazakhstan to solve the problem of youth unemployment.

“While defining the topic of our project for the competition, we considered that the pandemic first will affect all vulnerable young people, those who are undecided in life, do not study and do not work. At the same time, our task was to propose Kazakhstan such mechanisms that will definitely work. That’s why, with the help of the researchers at Georgia State University, for the first time we are going to use so-called social experiments to test our recommendations. We believe that we will be able to influence the situation of NEET youth in Kazakhstan. We are confident that we will build capacity at Nazarbayev University and in the country to conduct social experiments, which will be a reliable tool for testing education reforms,” said A. Ibrasheva, a senior researcher at GSE.

Today the problem of unemployed youth is extremely acute. In the world, 30% of young people (about 600 million people) do not study or work. In Kazakhstan, according to official data, 7.4% of young people are in the category NEET, and it’s about 280 thousand people. But in reality, this figure may actually be much larger.

Over the course of two years, the international group of researchers will carry out in-depth research about the reasons why young people find themselves in the NEET category and will develop corresponding recommendations.

For this purpose, it is planned to conduct a series of interviews and focus groups in different regions of the country.  The research will identify potential effective solutions to the problem. The novelty of the project is that all proposed solutions will be tested in experiments based on proven methodology.

In addition, randomized laboratory experiments will be conducted at Nazarbayev University and Alma U. Only the tools that have been tested will be included in the final recommendations of the project. They will be used in to help develop future governmental measures in relation to unemployed youth.

The project team includes researchers from Georgia State University (Atlanta, USA), including our compatriot Bauyrzhan Yedigenov, and FiBS (Scientific Institute of Economics of Education and Social Issues, Germany). A non-governmental organization, the Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan, will also be involved in the cooperation.

Over two years in the framework of the project the researchers plan to launch laboratories of social experiments at Nazarbayev University and Alma U, and most importantly, a pool of researchers in the field of social experiments will be formed.