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I graduated from school back in Soviet times. At that time, career guidance covered almost 100% of all students in general education and specialized schools. All high school students were required to attend vocational training centres (VTC) once a week. Easy-to-learn professions were offered. A state certificate of professional qualification was issued upon completion of the VTC. With this qualification certificate, one could easily find a job even without secondary specialized education (now it is a college in the TIPO (technical and vocational training) system of Kazakhstan) or higher education.

Over the past 31 years, the entire education system in Kazakhstan has gone through many reforms and changes. I didn’t really go deep into the topic of career guidance until I opened my own charity foundation in 2007.

In 2010, sponsors began to come to my AYALA Foundation with requests for projects for teenagers in orphanages and boarding schools for children from low-income and large families. We conducted numerous meetings with the heads of these institutions to understand how best to help. They resulted in a project that, after a couple of years, we wanted to close, despite its scale.

During 7 years, dozens of orphanages and boarding schools have had social guidance rooms and small sewing, carpentry, and hairdressing workshops emerging. The tasks were very practical: to give children from social institutions ordinary household and life skills, such as what dishes and kitchen utensils are available, how to cook with them, how to set the table, how to use a microwave, oven, toaster, refrigerator. How to wash dishes and put things in order. Modern sewing machines and overlockers were installed in workshops for girls, carpentry workshops were opened for boys, and genuine hairdressing salons were equipped with sinks, hair dryers, and consumables. We thought how good it would be: the children would use everything, learn, and develop. But the reality was frankly disappointing. A couple of years after, not a trace remained of kitchen and hairdressing utensils; only 2 or 3 institutions had some dishes and built-in appliances left. Most workshops were closed because there were no teachers on staff. Sometimes they were idle even with teachers in place because the equipment was being saved for showing to high commissions.

A question arose: what to do with the project: close it as inefficient or try a new approach? We decided to conduct gap analysis, rework the approach and started with Career Guidance.

What have we changed:

  • Gave up the format of teaching the principles of Housekeeping. We placed the main emphasis on gaining skills for the profession.
  • We introduced a careful selection of institutions with only the institution where the management guarantees control at all stages of the project implementation could become a partner: safety of equipment, availability of a full-time teacher, constant training of children at least 2-3 times a week.
  • We ensured the availability of workshops for volunteers: the management of the institution is open to contact with initiative volunteer groups that conduct additional master classes for children.
  • We have established monitoring of efficiency: AYALA Foundation requests information on the number of classes with children with confirmation in video and photos on a quarterly basis.
  • We evaluate the results by employment, i.e. the number of children who, after training in the workshops, have been hired.

When the first results from the updated project were received in 2020, we understood that, although not on a large scale, but very selectively, we had done the right and cool things in career guidance for teenagers.

After 2.5 years of training in our workshop and with volunteers, graduates of boarding school No. 15 for children from large and low-income families of Almaty oblast went to work in barber shops. One of them, after an on-the-job training at a barber salon in Almaty, got a place there and in 2023 he himself became a real master who already has his own apprentices. In September, two graduates of career guidance workshops will come to this boarding school as volunteers to teach teenagers the basics of hairdressing. And this, in my opinion, is the best motivation to start getting a profession while still at school.

In Karaganda, at the Children’s Home for Children with Special Abilities, the culinary workshop has not been idle even for a day since its opening in November 2021. Master classes were conducted by volunteers from the Elita Vkusa confectionery, the Hani coffee shop chain, and the DoDo Pizza pizzeria at their facilities. Seeing children interested and ready to learn, these organizations invited the children from the orphanage to have training at their enterprises. Teenagers received certificates for completed courses. This is a great opportunity for them to find work in this field in the future. I will say more: opportunities are already becoming reality. After the barista course was taught by volunteers at the Hani cafe, the management of this chain hired three foster children from this orphanage. The childrenare wearing yellow branded hoodies with the Hani logo so that cafe visitors can see and recognize them immediately.
According to teachers, children with special abilities in our career guidance workshops learn not only to acquire applied skills, they help them become open, feel confident and communicate freely.

The experience of AYALA Foundation in career guidance was considered by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, with whom we even signed a memorandum on coordinating efforts in career guidance for children from boarding schools and orphanages in 2021. That said, I don’t see any significant changes in the career guidance system so far. The ministry has been reformed and is now addressing higher priority issues.

While I was writing this blog, I found some curious information. The State Program for the Development of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2020 records the fact that the system of career guidance in education has been lost. It quite logically ensues from the above that the issues of the labour market that exist today include the lack of qualified labour, and an overabundance in the training of specialists in some areas to the detriment of others, and a number of other difficulties that are obvious to everyone.

In my view, to launch systematic work in career guidance for the foster children of orphanages and boarding schools for children from large and low-income families, the following can be done:

  1. Develop a system for forecasting in-demand applied professions in Kazakhstan for 5 years, considering the economic specifics of each region. Build systematic career guidance for adolescents from social and general educational institutions, considering the data of such a forecast.
  2. Develop and implement the tests that will help teenagers and their parents determine their professional future, considering the intellectual, psycho-emotional inclinations and abilities of high school students.
  3. Create career guidance Centres on the basis of vocational training schools or universities to coordinate work on career guidance for schoolchildren. Involve in this work the international companies that are already independently, as part of their social responsibility, helping teenagers gain the basics of a profession.

An excellent example is SAMSUNG educational programs in Kazakhstan. Hundreds of high school students have been trained for free at the junior developer level at Samsung Innovation Campus over 7 years. Dozens of teenage teams from all over Kazakhstan who are developing STEM projects for the benefit of the future of our country in the Solve for Tomorrow project. Chevron also has similar programs. I am sure that many international companies will be happy to share with the Ministry of Education their career guidance experience, their vision of the professions of the future in demand in Kazakhstan, and the best practices in career guidance for teenagers in the countries where they carry out business.


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Tel.: +7 (727) 327 60 43

Tel.: +7 (727) 356 17 38

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E-mail: info@ayala.kz


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Turan 18 Business-Center: block B, office 703

Tel.: +7 (7172) 79 90 20

Mob.: +7 777 364 26 43

E-mail: info@ayala.kz

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