Director of the Career and Advising Center
Nazarbayev University Enters THE World University Rankings: Scores Top 30% of International Research Universities
We are delighted to announce that Nazarbayev University is ranked in the top 30 percent of world research-intensive universities by the prestigious Times Higher Education World Universities Ranking https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2024/world-ranking.
The results, released by THE on September 28, rank 1904 universities from approximately 100 countries. NU participated in this highly recognized international evaluation for the first time. Achieving a place among the top one-third of the world’s leading research universities in just 13 years is a significant milestone and an outstanding achievement by international standards.
NU secured a position in the range of 501-600, thereby demonstrating the best performance among universities in Kazakhstan and the region of Central Asia and Caucasus. In 2024, Kazakhstan is represented by a total of four universities, with Nazarbayev University being at the top of the list.
Nazarbayev University is an international English-speaking research university, one of the flagships of higher education in the country. This is the first university in Kazakhstan, whose activities are based on the principles of meritocracy, academic freedom, and honesty. One of the strategic objectives of the university is to enter the top 20% of the best universities in the world by 2030 as part of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings (WUR), a global university ranking published annually by the British rating agency Times Higher Education.
Situation on the labor market
According to the Bureau of National Statistics of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan that published the sample survey of employment of the population for the 2nd quarter of 2023. 9.6 million people were employed in various sectors of the economy of Kazakhstan, of which 6.9 million people worked for hire (76.2% of the total number of people employed in the economy), 2.2 million people were self-employed (23.8% of the total number of people employed in the economy).
Compared with the 2nd quarter of 2022, total employment increased by 144 thousand people, mainly due to employees (104.1 thousand people), the number of self-employed (by 39.9 thousand people).
The largest share of employees was observed in trade (16.6%), education (12.9%) and industry (12.3%), agriculture (12.2%).
At the main job, on average, the actual hours worked per week were 38 hours per employed person, 40 hours per employee, and 34 hours per self-employed worker.
The number of people who were unemployed but were not looking for a job or were not ready to start working (potential labor force) amounted to 30.7 thousand people.
The proportion of persons not included in the labor force was 31.2% of the population aged 15 and over.
1. According to the Kazakh Bureau of National Statistics, the employment rate to the population aged 15 years and older in the first quarter of 2023 amounted to 65.0%, to the labor force - 95.2%. Unemployment rate (according to the methodology of the International Labor Organization) for the 1st quarter of 2023 amounted to 4.8%. The number of unemployed (according to ILO methodology) amounted to 453.4 thousand people. The proportion of NEET youth who are neither employed nor engaged in education or training was 7.9%.
2. According to the Astana Times, From July 1, 2023 all issues of social support of citizens will be regulated by a single document which is the Social Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Tamara Duisenova, Deputy Prime Minister — Minister of Labor and Social Protection of Population, informed about it at the meeting of the Government. At the beginning of her speech, the head of the Labor Ministry pointed out that the Social Code was being enacted in the CIS for the first time. It covers the whole life cycle of a person, namely:
Kazakhstan has determined its quota for employing foreign workers, reported the press service of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population on Jan. 10. Local employees are allowed to hire up to 22,200 foreign nationals, which is 0.24 percent of the total workforce in the country. The quota is aimed at protecting the domestic labor market. This year the workers are divided into four categories. The first category implies CEOs and their deputies, which allows for 949 hires. Up to 5,313 departmental heads can also be employed. Specialists and other qualified personnel take up the majority of the quota. Being in the third and fourth categories, they can accommodate 10,818 and 2,100 employees. Last year, the quota comprised 21,100 people, of which only 13,400 permits were issued, or 63.5 percent of the total. The ministry also determined the quota for immigrant labor for domestic work at 296,700 workers or 3.2 percent of the entire workforce in Kazakhstan. Last year, it issued 272,002 such permits.
3. In general, the labor market in Kazakhstan remains stable, according to the inbusiness.kz portal. The unemployment rate has not departed from projected values since the pandemic. Market conditions that form trends are also stable, such as the disproportion of labor resources between megacities and regions, the lack of qualified personnel, and the general shortage of personnel. However, in 2023, the existing balance may well be slightly upset. What awaits the labor market in Kazakhstan soon, we will understand below.
Globally, the entire region of Central Asia, as well as Europe, expects a decline in employment caused by economic factors, the same impending recession in the global economy. This follows from the analysis of the International Labor Organization (ILO). At the same time, there is reason to believe that the unemployment rate in the republic changes insignificantly. The current shortage of personnel will act as a buffer for the reduction of available jobs.
That is, the system will remain in balance. However, this may fully affect the quality of labor and its productivity, downplaying them. And as a result, having slowed down the predicted growth of salaries. The way it was last year when average remuneration for labor grew at a double-digit rate over the year (+16% on average year on year), will no longer be the case.
Also, if that year, employers were actively expanding their staff and looking for personnel, then this year, the search and hiring processes may well become less active - during a crisis, employers will choose safer behaviors and will not rush into expenses and investments. Yes, and the applicants themselves are likely to hide, and the number of active resumes will decrease.
In addition, probably already this year, we will see the active formation of alternative employment formats in the country. The discussion of the bill regulating platform employment in the country is a rather weighty hint at this.
The global shifts towards alternative employment are already quite obvious. According to PwC analysts, the global freelancing market has already exceeded $7 trillion and continues to grow. Today, according to various estimates, every third employed person in the world has experience in freelance work. And global companies are increasingly saying that they plan to attract more freelancers to work. Against this background, Kazakhstan does not lag. The number of freelancers in the country can grow by 3-4% annually. In 2021 alone, more than 800,000 people had experience working with legal entities as freelance contractors, according to the CRTR (Labor Development Center). Another 200 thousand, according to the analysis of the MDG, cooperated with the subjects of individual entrepreneurship.
As part of professional development, experience sharing and to discuss a number of issues, Gaini Yessembekova and Liliya Tleukenova, two employees of the Nazarbayev University Career and Advising Center, visited the USA from June 24 to July 4, 2023, in particular Chicago and Madison.
The purpose of the business trip was participation in the NCDA Global Career Development Conference 2023 (Chicago), meeting with the APCDA Organizing Committee (Chicago), a meeting with Nazarbayev University graduates working and studying in Chicago, a meeting with the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Madison) to study the experience of the university in organizing work with employers, foreign students, graduates and conducting a career guidance program
During the business trip, on June 25, a meeting was held with Nazarbayev University graduates working and studying in Chicago, where they discussed issues of interaction with the university as alumni, their participation in online career events, trends and trends in the labor market in Kazakhstan.
On June 26 in Madison, Wisconsin, a field meeting was held with representatives of the Career Center of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where the following issues were discussed:
From June 27 to July 1, we took part in the following sessions and round tables of the NCDA 2023 international conference:
In a country:
At KIMEP U:
On October 28 we conducted a career speed networking event for Law school. The purpose of this event was to help establish connections (networking) between students and companies actively looking for talent.
Participants: 20 companies and 20 best students of the Law School of the last year of study.
Since February 24, with the outbreak of the war with Ukraine, the Russian labor market has been undergoing significant changes and it influences the Kazakhstani market first of all. Hundreds of thousands of people have left Russia who do not support military operations, or who change their location along with companies leaving the Russian market. Turkey, Armenia, Georgia and the countries of Central Asia became one of the popular destinations for expatriation. More than 60,000 Russian citizens have entered Kazakhstan since the beginning of the war.
Every day more and more international companies either completely leave Russia or freeze their activities until better times. These companies are from various sectors: pharmaceutical companies, FMCG sectors, audit (Big 4) and consulting companies (Big 3). A number of recruiting agencies in Almaty have indeed seen a recent increase in applications for transfer or employment in Kazakhstan.
Elite agency on employment notes a sharp revival of interest of Russian specialists - representatives of the IT sector in the market of Kazakhstan. At the same time, there is an increase in the demand of Kazakh companies for applicants from Russia in all areas. Local companies declare that they are ready to consider any specialists whose qualifications do not require long adaptation and retraining, associated, for example, with knowledge of local legislation. In general, specialists from different industries began to study the labor market, assess supply and demand, in order to have some kind of long-term plan in case their job or business on the territory of the Russian Federation suffers or stops as a result of current circumstances.
If this trend continues, it may bring new competencies and standards to the labor market, and, as a result, tougher competition. If a significant number of Russian specialists come to Kazakhstan, this will expand the choice, increase competition and make local applicants more flexible. On the other hand, this will entail an increase in the unemployment of local personnel and higher demands from the employer. With the right approach of the state and good interaction between business and vocational education, the situation will help improve the efficiency of the system of education and training for personnel.
The Kazakhstani “subsidiaries” of Russian banks that fell under the sanctions will also increase competition among financial specialists. Kazakh banks have a great opportunity not only to renew or expand their staff, but also to significantly strengthen their teams with precisely those valuable specialists who once staffed the subsidiaries of Russian banks.
Job aggregator hh.kz notes that in the first quarter of 2022, more than 400 thousand residents of Kazakhstan were looking for work on hh.kz. The growth in the number of active resumes of applicants in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the fourth quarter of 2021 almost doubled. This means that about five people apply for one vacancy. The largest number of active resumes was shown by the large cities of Almaty, Nur-Sultan and Shymkent.
The top demanded specializations are “Sales”, next- "Accounting, management accounting, enterprise finance", "Administrative personnel", "Information technology, Internet, telecom", "Transport, logistics", "Construction, real estate".
1/ January protests in Kazakhstan.
Protests began on January 2 in Zhanaozen, a western oil town, over a sharp increase in gas prices. By January 4, thousands of peaceful protesters in other parts of the country had joined in, demanding economic and political reforms. The government clamped down on the protests over the next six days, including restrictions to internet access. Peaceful protesters were there, but there were also groups of clearly trained people who came to fight. Groups of masked looters stormed shops, cafes, and public buildings, stealing and destroying everything they encountered in their path. All the shops were closed, but we had food for a few days. Even if we wanted to buy something online, we couldn’t withdraw money because the banks were not working. The akimat (Mayor office) had been destroyed, the presidential residence was destroyed, the airport was seized, Only a few governmental TV channels were working. The internet was down. Now we are informed, about 500 civilians were beaten by protesters . They also set ablaze 120 cars, including 33 vehicles protesters took from the police, ambulance brigades and firefighters. More than 120 shops, 180 cafés and restaurants and 100 offices were destroyed and looted. Nearly 1,863 business companies across the country suffered damage. Total losses were estimated at US$215 million.
Dozens of assailants have been eliminated. President Tokayev called on the heads of states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to help Kazakhstan defeat the terrorist threat," Tokayev said on state television, adding that demonstrations are led by "terrorist gangs" who have "received extensive training abroad".
2/ President Tokayev announced new initiatives to promote social equality, government transparency, and education . President declared access to quality education is “the primary factor in the development of the whole society,” he proposed the allocation of targeted grants for young people from densely populated regions of the country and opening at least five branches of the world’s well-known universities in Kazakhstan by 2025.
3/ Nevertheless, all programs aimed to employ talented youth are going according to the plan and are going to be expanded. President noted that the state program for youth internships was a very good mechanism, however, it was implemented in insufficient numbers. The President has emphasized the importance of allocation of targeted grants for youth internships. This will serve as a social elevator for working youth.There is a number of national programs aimed to employ youth and provide internships like “My first employment”, “Youth internship”, etc. The biggest national program “Zhas orken” (Young sprig) includes top 200 national companies. The program also provides mentorship from top managers of the companies. It was decided that the starting salary for interns and terms of internship should be increased.
4/ Also the government is working to decrease the unemployment and inflation rates. As a member of HR executive committees at the European Business Association, British Chamber, American Chamber, I take part in the discussion of the Draft amendments and additions to the labor code with “proposals to increase the income of the population by improving labor legislation”. The Government declared the priority to increase the income of the population.
5/ As the new stamm Omicron spread in Kazakhstan, secondary schools and universities started Spring semesters online. KIMEP is going to return on-campus starting February 7.
6/ Official unemployment rate (as for December 2021) was 2.5%, actual number is 4.9%
About 50% of the population were vaccinated. Business returned to previous indicators. There are offline events. On weekends malls and restaurants are open only for vaccinated.
KIMEP U launched Fall semester online. But then by the decree of the Ministry of Education and Science we were forced to switch the mode of educational delivery and return to the implementation of in-person, traditional learning. Upon the full consultation of the student government president, faculty members, and members of top management of KIMEP University, we postponed return to in-person education to October 25. All students returned to classes.
- Conference on new technologies in education “Edcrunch glocal —designing a new educational experience» - December 7-8th, 2021, online and offline, https://edcrunch.online/en
- Central Asia Nobel fest – an online platform for discussing and sharing innovative ideas with Nobel Prize Laureates, distinguished scientist and experts, October 26-29, https://nobelfest.inpolicy.net/about-eng.html
In recent years, Kazakhstan has made progress in improving competencies and economic indicators. For example, an inclusive system of competencies in Kazakhstan is strong at all levels. Kazakhstan is rapidly improving in the use of competencies at work, especially in terms of applying digital skills. However, the level of competence of youth in Kazakhstan remains significantly below the average. Adults also have comparatively weak fundamental competencies (skills) and problem-solving skills, since the culture of adult learning underdeveloped. Vulnerable populations face significant barriers to enhancing their competencies in the labor market, and unsatisfactory information systems about competencies do not allow for more effective and targeted policies. Many of these competency problems are rooted in ineffective governance mechanisms, including weak intergovernmental coordination and cooperation, and lack of communication with stakeholders.
Strengthening the activation of competencies for vulnerable populations
Facilitating participation in all forms of adult learning
Creation of an effective system of information on competencies
Strengthening the management of the competency system
In 2020, Kazakhstan promptly took measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, Kazakhstan has also implemented an extensive range of measures to mitigate economic consequences by developing a package of anti-crisis measures in the amount of 10 billion US dollars (about 9% of GDP). The program has employed over 750,000 people, and about 4.6 million people received direct financial support from government.
However, people in Kazakhstan continue to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic, which is also has a significant negative impact on current and future growth prospects. In January-August 2020, the economy decreased on 3% compared to an annual GDP growth rate of 4.5% in 2019 (World Bank). For the period from January to August 2020, Retail fell 11.7%, Investment fell 5.2%, and exports fell against the backdrop of weak global demand. As in other countries around the world, strict insulation is also led to the closure of educational and training institutions, with most of the studies went online. In Kazakhstan, the closure of schools may have long-term consequences for the economy and society. The World Bank estimates that future the income of students affected by COVID-19 in Kazakhstan could be reduced by about 2.9%, which will result in total annual economic losses of up to USD 1.9 billion. The crisis also made it difficult to complete transition of young people from school to work, which will lead to long-term wage losses and well-being due to the “scar effect”.
30% of the population were vaccinated (last report in May - 6%). Delta variant reached 90 percent. The Ashyq mobile application introduces ratings for business. The most responsible business has more preferences- open hours longer, more guests/clients in restaurants or offices. According to conducted survey – restaurant lost the most profits.
The labor market in Kazakhstan, like anywhere in the world, suffers from the evergreen issue of mismatch between the supply, quality of skills and de-facto demands of the workplace. According to the news portal in Kazakhstan, 60% of university graduates do not work according to the profession or specialty-trained for at the university.
The Atlas of Emerging Jobs is an almanac of promising industries and occupations for the next 10–15 years, initially developed in Russia in 2014. It will help to understand which industries, will actively develop; what new technologies, products, management practices will be born in and what new skills and competencies will be in demand by employers. On the other hand, the Atlas will shed light on what industries, professions, skills will become unnecessary, and which parts of the country’s labor will need retraining, upskilling and mobilization to other jobs.
Thus, the Atlas of Emerging Jobs currently designates to become one of the most advanced vocational guidance tools that help to understand future trends in the labor market and identify specialties and skills that will become relevant or appear in the coming decade.
The last news - as a result - over the next 5 years, one of Kazakhstani universities of Oil and Gas plans to introduce 16 professions from the "Atlas of new professions and competencies of Kazakhstan" in 5 areas of the oil and gas industry.
It is planned to introduce professions from the Atlas in 180 colleges and more than 12 universities today are already updating their educational programs.
As all of you know students academic exchanges is an excellent tool to increase the employability of students. My university was always #1 in Kazakhstan on international exchanges. We accept the biggest number of foreign students, and our KIMEP students are the most active exchange students, in comparison with other universities in Kazakhstan. e have about 180 partner universities around the world. I am glad to inform that due to vaccination we return back to exchanges and as for now
offline academic exchange
online academic exchange
#of international HEI offers
# of KIMEP students accepted
May 2021 Kazakhstan Report
Randstad Employer Brand Research Report
The list of priority specializations were named for this academic year as part of the Bolashak International Scholarship Program. The academic fields of study are divided into seven main sections, such as innovation and new technologies, industrial engineering, natural sciences, social sciences, education, medicine and creative industry. More specific innovative areas that were highlighted by the program include virology, robotics and creative economy specializations. Due to the latest circumstances, programs in biotechnology, biology and vaccinology are also prioritized this year.
NU: Fall semester- Hybrid with 1/3 of the student population on campus
KIMEP: Summer II semester- offline. Student survey showed that students divided 50%\50% in their preference of online and offline education.
In April KIMEP organized the second Job Fair in online format.
January 2020 Kazakhstan Report
First-year university students have partially returned to classrooms. High school students follow a mixed learning program, where 70 percent of classes take place in classrooms and 30 percent remotely.
Mass vaccination is expected to begin Feb. 1 with Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and the plan is to immunize up to six million citizens in 2021. With Kazakhstan’s vast natural resources, the government seeks to tap into the potential of the agricultural sector. This year, it plans to create 7 large production and processing ecosystems of meat, dairy, crops, oilseeds, fruits, vegetables and sugar. In 2020, gross output in agriculture grew 5.6 percent over the year reaching 6.3 trillion tenge (US$14.9 billion). The plan will create 13,400 jobs and ensure a ten percent growth in the processing industry.
Ms. Yevgeniya Kim of Nazarbayev University recommends the two reports below by the European Training Foundation. They contain the most recent findings of the project under European Union on "International trends and innovation in career guidance." Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan, was invited for participation in Fall 2019 and reflect on how the Career and Advising Center at Nazarbayev University sees the value of career guidance and constant student learning in its work.
On October 29, 2020, the Career and Advising Center at Nazarbayev University organized the online Career Center’s Forum on the topic "Links between employers and higher education institutions" as part of the sharing experience program. The Career Center’s Forum brought together employees of university career centers, career development and planning professionals and employers.
The Nazarbayev University Career Advising Center started the development of a platform for the exchange of experience and best practices through seminars and sessions in 2015. In addition to seminars, the Center has also been conducting special job shadowing sessions for individual universities upon their request. For a more systematic and conceptual approach to the sharing experience program, in October 2019, the Center launched a series of 9 webinars attended by representatives of more than 40 universities in Kazakhstan.
Related to the experience of universities and employers, the Forum presented trends in the labor market of Kazakhstan (for example, optimization by reducing working hours, but not reducing number of employees) and measures to support employment taken by the government (Daulet Argandykov, President of the Center for the Workforce Development). These ideas were supported by the results of the research conducted by Ankor, an international staffing company which found that only 12% of the surveyed companies in Kazakhstan are planning staffing cuts. Ankor also presented the results of the first ever study of employers' brands conducted in the labor market of Kazakhstan (Tengizchevroil, Kazatomprom, Air Astana, etc.). Universum presented the results of Talent Research 2020 conducted among nearly 7 thousand students from Kazakhstan.
>The Forum, which was held on the Zoom platform attracted about 110 participants, including colleagues from the career centers of universities from Russia and Belarus. In addition to representatives of universities, employers and specialists in the field of career development attended the event.
One of the guest speakers to the Forum was Ms. Gulnur Ismayil – Isparova, executive Director of Asia Pacific Career Development Association and Acting Associate Vice Rector of ADA University in Azerbaijan. As part of APCDA’s community service and contribution to the field, APCDA leadership is joining various international forums and conferences to share ideas and best practices in career development. Ms. Ismayil – Isparova presented the Association and introduced participants to the scope of APCDA, encouraging them to become members of one of the strongest international career networks in the world. She has also talked about expertise of colleagues across our region with examples from South Korea, China, Japan, Philippines, Australia, USA and Singapore. Important highlights related to the role of government and national agencies in support of extensive private-public partnerships and ways national institutions can be helpful during the pandemic.
To conclude, Ms Ismayil-Isparova drew attention to the article by Dr. Farouk Dey, Vice Provost for Integrative Learning and Life Design at the Johns Hopkins University on 10 Future Trends in College Career Services to share his perspective on the evolution of career centers. Synergy, broader outreach, and development of a University eco-system contribute to the future of university career services, which ensure effective service to students and increase their chances of being successfully employed upon graduation.
We are thankful to our colleagues from Nazarbayev University for this enormous contribution in the field of career development across Kazakhstan!
Sharing Nazarbayev University Career & Advising Center’s experience:
The Center has conducted 6 webinars for Kazakhstani HEIs to share our best practices as well as create platform and engage other Universities to share their experience on the following topics:
Kick off webinar: labor market trends, future ready graduates skills, Experience Sharing Program content and timelines
Career Development Course
Graduate Application Advising Program
Work on Campus program
Career Advising Program
Alumni Engagement Program
Participants have to participate live or study the recorded webinars. Answer multiple choice questions, receive Certificate ( 60% correct answers in the multiple choice quiz)
Participation in the Workshop in the framework of the Project of the British Council in Kazakhstan on embedding Employability framework
Presentation shared with APCDA Country representatives
Invitation to participate in the Eurasian Higher Education Leaders’ Forum 2020
More info at https://ehelf.nu.edu.kz/
Dates: Dates: September 30 – October 2, 2020
Venue: Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan Сity, Kazakhstan
Title: “University *.0. Ready?”
In this 10th anniversary edition, EHELF aims to address important questions affecting higher education spurred by rapid advances in digital technologies. While industries and job markets are profoundly affected by technological disruption, higher education institutions (HEI) also have to face the same technological disruption and change. Whether future universities will be characterized as “university 2.0” (i.e. an update and reset of today’s university) or “university 4.0”(a deeper disruption analogous to “industry 4.0”), we probably can all agree that universities themselves will be subject to profound questioning, but are they, are we ready? Whence, the EHELF title “University *.0. Ready?” EHELF’s thematic direction builds on topics discussed over the last few years, in particular our themes from 2018: “Innovating Higher Education in the Age of Disruption” and 2019: “Future Ready Graduates”.
Change of role from the Career Center to Advisor to Vice-Provosts at the University
Yevgeniya Kim, the Director of Nazarbayev University’s Career and Advising Center, has been working there since its inception in 2012. The main tasks of the Center are to work together with students on their career development and to advise students and graduates on issues related to their professional growth. We offer an interview with Yevgeniya on our website.
– As you know, a university system of education encourages students in many ways to be independent, as opposed to the school systems encountered earlier in life. Everything at the university is aimed at providing students with opportunities for development, as they say, “to teach them to fish and you feed him for a lifetime “. How successfully students can take advantage of these opportunities depends on themselves.
We live in a world where the overall knowledge base is constantly growing, so every day there is new data and knowledge in any field of science, industry or business. This changing landscape means that a number of transferrable skills are highly prized. Among them, according to the World Economic Forum Report, are the ability to be analytical, to innovate, to find comprehensive solutions, to think critically, to actively learn, and finally, to be able to learn new skills in general. Supporting students in developing these skills is where the Center sees its main task, which it strives to achieve working together with the schools, the university library, and research centers. We try to actively involve our students and graduates in joint work with our partners through professional development programs (i.e., Company Days, Career Days, seminars on key skills, simulation interviews, and excursions). Starting next academic year, we plan to open a career planning course based on this program.
Over the summer of 2017, I conducted a survey and in-depth interviews with university career centers from three different cities in Kazakhstan: Almaty, Astana and Kostanai. The goal of the research was to investigate the role of career centers at Kazakhstani universities in improving students' workforce preparedness and increasing employability. This article will provide a brief snapshot of career center services at Kazakhstani universities and share best practices that four universities surveyed utilize to increase student employability.
Brief Snapshot – Career Centers at Kazakhstani Institutes of Higher Education
Career and advising centers at Kazakhstani institutes of higher education are a relatively new phenomenon. During the Soviet period, university graduates were assigned a position based on their university specialty and industry requirements. Open borders, new professions and advancements in technology have changed the picture considerably over the past two decades. Among the universities polled for this research, career centers were established as early as 1995 and as recently as 2015. Levels of career center staffing and range of services provided vary tremendously, largely due to a university's individual strategic priorities, resources and budgets.
Career and advising centers in Kazakhstan provide varied services to students and alumni and proffer different levels of engagement with industry. Services offered range from individual one-on-one counseling appointments with students to large all-university events such as career fairs or employer recruitment sessions. Career center staff assist students with securing internships, liaise with a whole range of stakeholders internally and externally, and prepare students for employment opportunities. Many of the challenges that career center staff expressed related to their work are not faced by Kazakhstani institutions alone. For example, tracking student employment data and maintaining accurate alumni data is a challenge faced by universities globally. Staff training and retention is another challenge shared by Kazakhstani universities with others around the world.
Career Center Services to Increase Employability: Institutional Highlights
Career Fairs: Varied Activities and Approaches
A nuanced career fair approach and varied fair formats yield positive results related to workforce preparedness, as demonstrated by several universities surveyed. KazGUU University in Astana has a segmented approach to its career fairs, hosting an internship-themed fair in the fall semester and an employment- themed fair in the spring semester. The university targets companies for each of these fairs according to their respective internship and employment needs. This tailored approach results in higher industry, university and student satisfaction with placement rates.
KIMEP University in Almaty incorporates multiple forums and strategy sessions into its annual career fair. During its last fair, KIMEP included a forum themed "Education and Employment: New Realities." The forum brought together top HR executives with diverse perspectives. They discussed topics such as key skills in the post-industrial era. During the fair, students had the opportunity to gain feedback on their résumés and their presentation styles.
Nazarbayev University in Astana has innovated beyond the traditional career fair format. Instead of organizing annual career fairs, the university conducts a series of on-campus recruitment events throughout the year. The university found that at traditional career fairs, the number of vacancies companies can offer is limited, and not always appropriate for new graduates. Today, the university conducts a series of customized campus recruitment events throughout the year, designed to link to the employability levels of Nazarbayev University graduates.
Industry Engagement: Thematic Round Tables and Case Study Competitions
In addition to university advisory boards, several universities surveyed shared innovative ways that they maintain close contact with industry. Narxoz University in Almaty engages with business by organizing periodic thematic round table discussions with employers. Each time the targeted invite group changes, so do the presented topics – for example, the university has organized round tables for employers in the areas of the banking, consulting, audit, hospitality, agriculture and manufacturing industries. This practice could be valuable for those universities that are looking for targeted feedback from particular industries. This approach also compliments advisory board activities.
KIMEP University in Almaty offers companies the opportunity to develop and advertise case study competitions among its students. Student teams have the opportunity to solve a real case study for a company via a team competition. Open to students at both the bachelor and master's level, these competitions are win-win for students and companies. Students have the chance to apply their critical thinking, teamwork and technical skills to a case study and companies receive valuable insight that can be applied to marketing, sales and design concepts.
Internship and Employment Preparation: Mock Interviews by Companies
Trainings, seminars and master classes related to employability competencies emerged unanimously as the top services that career centers provide to students to help prepare them for employability and job competitiveness. These include training sessions and feedback on résumés and CVs, interview preparation and interviewing skills practice labs. Nazarbayev University in Astana highlighted a best practice of inviting companies on campus to provide 'mock interviews' for students. Though the interviews are not always for currently open positions, Nazarbayev University Career and Advising Center Director Yevgeniya Kim noted that 'often companies are so impressed with our students during the mock interviews that they find ways to offer them internships or keep them in mind for future opportunities.'
This brief article presented a range of best practices that are currently employed by Kazakhstani career centers including a targeted approach to career fairs, innovations in industry engagement and preparation for internships and employment via mock interviews with company representatives. These programming strategies and approaches could easily be adapted to other country contexts. These ideas may be useful for university leadership, career center staff, and companies interested in utilizing career centers as a vehicle to improve workforce preparedness and student employability.
Stanley Currier is a Senior Program Officer in the Education Programs Division at IREX in Washington, D.C. He currently manages a portfolio of higher education and youth development programs. He can be reached at email@example.com.
I welcome you at the Kazakhstani page, a newly joined country member at APCDA.
As a Director of the Career and Advising Center I have a privilege of working with a committed group of professionals who are here to help the students and graduates of Nazarbayev University to successfully connect their academic accomplishments with a wide range of career opportunities. I have worked in higher education for over 20 years. My Master Degrees in International Journalism (majoring in PR) and Business Administration have supported me throughout my professional life. I enjoy travelling, sports, and watching movies; cherish my family and friends.
May I share an article about the Career and Advising Center at Nazarbayev University for the local newspaper Astana Times. Here’s the link: https://astanatimes.com/2017/06/nu-career-centre-assists-graduates-in-landing-a-job/