Developing relevant skills and using them effectively is crucial for Kazakhstan’s ability to thrive in an increasingly interconnected and rapidly changing world.

In recent years, Kazakhstan has made significant progress in strengthening its skills system, and in its economic and social performance. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been a uniquely disruptive shock, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths globally and causing the most severe global economic recession since the 1920s. Kazakhstan acted quickly to contain the spread of COVID-19 and limit the adverse economic impact, by adopting rigid social distancing policies and implementing a robust anti-crisis package worth 9% of its gross domestic product (GDP). Nonetheless, COVID-19 has still brought human suffering to Kazakhstan and is having a substantial negative effect on current and future growth prospects.

Evidence-based skills policies can play a vital role in mitigating the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 crisis and supporting the ensuing recovery. The crisis has affected more vulnerable groups most intensely, with unemployment hitting low-skilled and informal workers the hardest. School closures have had a stronger impact on children from vulnerable families because they are generally less able to learn in an online environment. In the shorter term, supporting vulnerable groups, for example, by ensuring that low-skilled adults can promptly reactivate their skills in the labour market, can help reduce poverty and inequality. In the medium- to long-term, megatrends, such as globalisation, digitalisation and demographic change, will continue to transform jobs, the way society functions and how people interact. A resilient and adaptable skills system will allow Kazakhstan to benefit from these transformations, achieving higher levels of economic growth and well-being in the process, and will enable Kazakhstan to face the economic and social shocks of the future.

In recent years, Kazakhstan has implemented several strategies and reforms to create a skills system capable of addressing many of these challenges. The Kazakhstan 2050 strategy, which sets the long-run objective of transforming the country into one of the top 30 most developed economies in the world by 2050, identifies the creation of a modern and relevant system of lifelong learning among its seven priorities. To help bring forward this ambitious objective in the short term, Kazakhstan has launched the Enbek programme, which aims to promote productive employment and to engage citizens in entrepreneurship. It has implemented various measures, such as introducing the concept of non-formal education in legislation.

This report identifies four priority areas for strengthening Kazakhstan’s endeavour to build a strong skills system: improving the activation of skills of vulnerable populations; fostering participation in adult learning of all forms; building an effective skills information system; and strengthening the governance of the skills system. These priorities will be at the core of further development of Kazakhstan’s skills strategies. The OECD worked collaboratively with Kazakhstan to develop policy responses that are tailored to specific skills challenges and needs. The process involved detailed analysis and widespread engagement with over 150 stakeholders, leading to the recommendations set out in this report.

The OECD stands ready to support Kazakhstan further, particularly in light of the enormous challenges now emerging as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, as it seeks to implement effective skills policies and continues its transition to a knowledge-based economy and society.

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