Implementing the Turkmenistan Youth Development Activity (YDA), J.E. Austin and QED seek to create employment opportunities for young people (ages 15-25) and provide the labor market with specialists for newly-created, high demand professional positions. The long term implementation of YDA will foster an inclusive, competitive and youthful workforce capable of bolstering the socio-economic development of Turkmenistan. In order to meet these goals, J.E. Austin works to engage local businesses, reinforce links between employers and the education system and provide institutional support for educational organizations and training centers. J.E. Austin also conducts research on youth in the labor market to pinpoint what skills they need to be successful and how training initiatives can be most effective. In the first year of the project, 212 young people (including those from vulnerable groups), successfully completed the Spring and Summer Programs for Youth Skills Development conducted jointly by the YDA and the Union of Economists of Turkmenistan. In these programs, participants completed entrepreneurial, digital and soft skill improvement sessions. These sessions often end in competitions or presentations of business projects with business representatives acting as mentors, jury members and prize sponsors. The soft skill programs (Skills for Success, JA Career Success) culminated in mock job interview trainings and a job fair. The JA Be Entrepreneurial program culminated in the “3P” (Plan, Product, Presentation) competition. Furthermore, the project utilizes partnerships from both businesses and international organizations such as the US Embassy and the American Councils for International Education who recently financially sponsored a holistic program on project development and proposal-writing skills.
The 2022 Startup Ecosystem Program is the first of its kind in Turkmenistan and aims to support innovative youth entrepreneurship and cultivate business acceleration services in Turkmenistan. The third stage of this program is held this year by the Union of Economists in conjunction with the YDA Project with significant contributions from volunteer mentors and businesses. This program includes seven mentoring companies seeking to be business incubators in Turkmenistan. It plans to cover approximately 120 residents this year, resulting in the creation of about 50 youth-led startup projects.
The “10 Bridges” program, developed by J.E. Austin Associates, is carefully designed to build the links between professional education and specific industries. With sustainability in mind, this program is unique in Turkmenistan and is planned to be implemented in the near future. Currently, the program is in the coordination stage and is being prepared for further implementation in different universities across the country.