Kyrgyzstan: new skills to use back home

A total of 77,700 people returned to Kyrgyzstan from abroad in 2017. They bring with them a host of skills and keen to put them to good use at home.

Jyldyz Osmonova is happy, ‘I now realise that I needn’t have worried about becoming self-employed. I’m optimistic about the future.’ At 33, after having spent ten years in Russia, Jyldyz returned back home to Kyrgyzstan, where she opened up a shop specialising in baby products and clothing. She received support in the form of start-up training designed specifically for returnees.

Osmonova’s story is not uncommon in Kyrgyzstan. One sixth of Kyrgyz citizens live abroad, more than 95 per cent of them in Russia. Most leave home in the hope of earning a better income, but many return to be closer to their families. These returnees often bring professional experience and knowledge with them that is valuable in Kyrgyzstan’s labour market. However, there are insufficient structures in place to support people in returning to work.

This is where the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) comes in. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Skills for Reintegration project takes a two-pronged approach. The project works with public authorities to formally recognise skills acquired abroad. Through cooperation between governmental and non-governmental bodies, testing standards have been developed in four manual trades, for example. In addition, returnees receive support in finding employment or potentially starting their own business. The first point of contact is an information office, and the project has also launched its own employment service app, which brings returnees and employers together. Furthermore, returnees can also take part in a six-week training course to learn the essentials for starting a business.

Jyldyz Osmonova took part in one of these courses, and then went on to open her own shop. ‘The course taught me a lot about marketing and target groups. It inspired me to actually open my shop. Before that I only had an online shop.’ Overall, more than half of the course participants went on to start their own businesses.

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