Representatives from Ministries of Education and Labour, agencies and educational institutions from the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, met with education experts from the European Union in Bishkek in December to discuss the transition of students graduating from Higher Education (HE) and Vocational Education & Training (VET) to the labour market.
This three-day event was the fifth and final in a series of working group meetings looking at data collection methodologies and evidence based policy making in HE and VET – aimed at demonstrating the benefits of using hard facts and empirical evidence in the decision making process, to help policy makers make well-informed decisions and provide a solid basis for tailoring educational content to the real needs of both students and the labour market.
The meeting was organised by CAEP in collaboration with the European Training Foundation (ETF), who brought to the table their experiences of the Torino Process project, and was supported by the Ministry of Education and Science for the Kyrgyz Republic.
The aims of this working group have been to:
The first three meetings of the working group looked at the different phases of the evidence cycle:
The final two meetings focused on the transition of graduates to the labour market, with the fourth meeting in Almaty covering the topic of career guidance, and this, fifth, meeting looking specifically at the use of graduate tracer studies to collect data on the transition and using that evidence for policy analysis and development.
To prepare for this meeting, delegates met the previous week for a web-based seminar, in which the ETF team presented an introduction to tracer studies and the concepts behind evidence based policy making and participants had the chance to put forward issues they wanted raised in Bishkek.
On the first day of the meeting, each of the Central Asia country teams presented what they already knew about HE and VET graduates in their country and discussed the importance of tracing what happens in the transition process to the labour market. Ms. Diana Laipniece, an education expert from Latvia, shared the Latvian experience of using tracer studies for VET graduates and Mr Marek Bozykowski, an education researcher and specialist from the University of Warsaw, gave a presentation on the Polish Graduate Tracking System, probably one of the most advanced systems active in the EU. At the end of the day, the country teams started to outline the case study that they would work on for the next two days – to develop a strategy for undertaking and analysing tracer studies in their own country.
The second and third days saw practical sessions looking at different approaches to surveying and measuring graduate transition, as well as group sessions in which the country teams continued to work and present aspects of their case study.
In conclusion, final country case study presentations were then followed by reflections by each team on the key learnings they wished to take home with them and implement in their ongoing activities. It was found that although each country faced some different issues, across the region there were many similar challenges, such as lack of data on graduates, no centralised mechanisms for the collection and storage of information, human and financial resource issues and political support. The importance of regional cooperation was also noted, due to the movement of migrants between the countries, and the example of the European Schengen Area was discussed.
Ms. Liia Kaarlop from ETF said that her main takeaway from the working group was “the positive attitude of colleagues from all 4 countries to learn about evidence-based policy making, monitoring of graduates and tracer studies” and found the “motivation of participants” and the “value of team-work” impressive. ETF’s experience of evidence based policy making has complimented the work of the platform in this area and their joint knowledge and expertise has helped the working group participants learn from each other.
The agenda, downloadable presentations and photo gallery from the event can be found on the event page.