Modernising vocational education and training in the food processing sector

Project description

Title: Professional Education and Vocational Training in Central Asia – Fostering Systemic Approaches in the Food Processing Sector (PECA)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan
Lead executing agencies: Ministries for education and research in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education in Uzbekistan
Overall term: 2019 to 2022


Central Asia has a young population, nearly one third of whom are under the age of 15. Youth unemployment is already a problem and will pose increasing economic, social and political challenges to partner countries in the future. There is therefore a great need for skilled workers. However, employment-relevant training courses that meet the requirements of the labour market are lacking. One example of this is the food processing industry, which plays a significant role in long-term economic development and employment promotion in all Central Asian states. 

The partner countries have been hesitant in implementing necessary reforms for employment-oriented vocational education and training. In addition, they have barely tapped the potential offered by regional cooperation to promote a cross-border training and labour market.


The normative and institutional foundations for employment-oriented vocational education and training in Central Asia have improved, especially in the food processing industry.

Auszubildende „Lebensmitteltechnik“ am Berufscollege Kara-Balta, Kirgisistan (Foto: GIZ)


The Professional Education in Central Asia (PECA) programme supports the modernisation of vocational education and training in Central Asia on a pilot basis for the food processing industry. It pays particular attention to labour market orientation and the introduction of international quality standards. The aim is to set up dual vocational training and university education in which a significant component of the training content is taught in businesses, i.e. directly in the workplace.

PECA promotes regional harmonisation of Central Asia’s national vocational education systems. To this end, it strengthens cooperation between partner countries. In regional steering committees and working groups, the actors involved coordinate guidelines for further developing their national vocational education and training systems. National reform approaches are discussed at regional level.

In cooperation with the ICON-INSTITUTE Consulting Group, the project focuses on enabling actors from politics, business and education in the individual Central Asian states to develop a common basis for needs-oriented vocational education and training in the food processing industry. Essentially, the aim is to develop and update industry-relevant career and training standards, while also developing strategies for dual vocational training and university education.

PECA also introduces selected courses at vocational and university level and supports company involvement in their design and implementation. Specifically, it supports training for food technologists at eight pilot vocational schools in the region. The project supports the development of a Bachelor’s course in Logistics at one university in each partner country.

Finally, PECA promotes the role of chambers of industry and commerce, professional associations and technology transfer centres as actors in the partner countries’ vocational education and training systems. With the aid of the project, the institutions specified will expand their range of services for companies and/or educational institutions.

Lebensmittelmesse, Bischkek, Kirgisistan (Foto: GIZ)


Expert working groups, consisting of representatives from politics, business and the education sector, have developed a method for formulating practice-oriented professional standards. They are now using this as a basis for defining new professional standards for the food processing industry. Regionally coordinated reference curricula for dual training for food technologists and the dual Bachelor’s degree in Logistics have been created based on European quality standards. They now serve as a foundation for fleshing out corresponding courses in all four partner countries. 

Another result of the capacity development by PECA is that selected professional associations and technology transfer centres in the region provide services for certifying vocational qualifications, improving vocational education and training, and applying for patents.

Last update: December 2020