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Kazakhstan Country Information

Kazakhstan Representative:
Yevgeniya Kim
Career and Advising Center Director
Nazarbayev University, Nur-Sultan
Kazakhstan@AsiaPacificCDA.org



Kazakhstani Career Forum: Links between Employers and Higher Education Institutions

By Madina Aitakanova, Balagul Abduali and Gulnur Ismayil-Isparova 

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!

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October 2020 Kazakhstan Report

Fall 2020 Remote Learning Survey:

  • 73.5% response rate
  • Most students prefer a delivery mode that involves face-to-face instruction (partially or entirely)
  • Around 4 in 10 students indicated that they have adapted “well” (or “very well”) to remote learning
  • Less than half of the undergraduate students were satisfied with the quality of their engagement in remote learning activities
  • Top 3 improvements needed: course delivery, personal attitude towards remote learning, and change in the home/learning environment
  • 3 out of 5 undergraduate students  and a third of graduate students experienced lack of motivation as a major challenge
  • Inability to learn effectively online was a major challenge for the majority of undergraduate students
  • Improvement in digital skills and ability to study at one’s own  pace emerged as some of the most positive aspects
  • 2 slides on Participation in the “Events and Activities” and  “Satisfaction with Services and Resources” further


Spring 2021:

  • Online semester with slight modifications for a few in-person classes/less than 10 % (labs and graduation requirements)
  • Maintaining a balance between synchronous and asynchronous delivery
  • Allow different modes of internships, encourage proactivity in obtaining major course modification and course withdrawal and degree deferments by students should be considered carefully and discouraged as far as possible
  • Adoption of Outbreak Response Plan (ORP), security and safety measures to be strengthened
  • British Council Higher Education Dialogues-Deep Dive series: Oct 28 ‘What can universities do to help graduates find employment this year? – The Fundamentals of Employability.’ More to come
  • Coursera “Building University of the Future” link to YouTube series

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April 2020 Country report by Yevgeniya Kim

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

  • Employability Program

  • Career Development Course

  • Graduate Application Advising Program 

  • Internship Program

  • Work on Campus program


Upcoming webinars:

  • Career Advising Program

  • Alumni Engagement Program

  • Communication Strategy

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 

  • Academic Affairs

  • Industry Engagement

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Skills and Competencies vs Knowledge

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.

Source: https://nu.edu.kz/news/skills-competencies-vs-knowledge


The Global Career Services Summit 2018 by Yevgeniya Kim

The Global Career Services Summit 2018 took place in Newcastle, UK from March 12-15 2018. Nearly one hundred career professionals traveled to the North East of England from around the world to share their expertise and best practices. This underlines the absolute importance of universities becoming the place for and playing important role in student employability.

The environment in which we operate is changing at a rapid pace. We frequently hear that in the next ten years there will be a new generation of jobs that do not even exist today. Some Employer tips to University Graduates follow to help grads stay ahead of the curve and become global citizens:

Employers tend to:

  • provide the same overall staffing opportunities but differentiate by their corporate culture. Choose the employer that is a "Culture Fit" for you
  • have an "open door policy" that gives access to everybody on every "ladder[/lattice]" level
  • look for "Go and Do people" not for candidates who are waiting for guidance and instructions on what and how things should be done
  • look for self-leadership, ability for self-drive, and motivation and self-awareness (candidates who demonstrate awareness of self and others)
  • hire "I see you" people; candidates who demonstrate high EQ levels
  • need people who don't ask for permission but rather for forgiveness
  • encourage experiments
  • appreciate confidence rather than arrogance. They love people who are "at ease with themselves"
  • search for candidates who demonstrate the "We" not "I" attitude
  • appreciate candidates who learn new things and relearn better ways to do things
  • emphasize the importance of LinkedIn utilization to develop networking skill
  • look for a right "fit" rather than a "good" candidate

It's important for today's graduates to be PROACTIVE and PROCESS READY when it comes to ongoing Knowledge, Skill and Ability maintenance and development post-graduation. As hard as it is to secure a job right after graduation, it will be excruciatingly difficult to prepare for a future job that NO ONE has done before. Ongoing global citizenry development is a MUST!

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Highlights from Kazakhstani Career Centers, December 2017, by Stanley Currier

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 scurrier@irex.org.

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April 2020 Country Report by Yevgeniya Kim

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/

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