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2018-03-21 | Economy

Online job centre targets unemployment in Kazakhstan


Kazakhstanis shop at the Auyl Bereke Market in Taraz March 6. Kazakhstan's government is working to reduce unemployment and protect the nation's self-employed workers, many of whom work without formal contracts, to prevent exploitation. [Aydar Ashimov]

Kazakhstanis shop at the Auyl Bereke Market in Taraz March 6. Kazakhstan's government is working to reduce unemployment and protect the nation's self-employed workers, many of whom work without formal contracts, to prevent exploitation. [Aydar Ashimov]

By Aydar Ashimov

ALMATY -- Enbek.kz, a new Kazakhstani government-run electronic job centre, is connecting employers and state-run employment offices with job seekers, bringing them together on one platform.

About 62,000 job seekers have posted their resumes on the website, which the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of the Population launched January 1, Deputy Minister Nurjan Altayev told journalists March 7 in Astana.

Meanwhile, employers have posted 30,000 vacancies, said Altayev, adding that the site co-operates with 35 private employment agencies and nine media outlets and websites.

The project comes amid optimism about economic growth for Central Asia in 2018 and closer trade ties with the United States.

Helping thousands find jobs

As of January, the country had 440,000 unemployed citizens, signifying an unemployment rate of about 5%, according to Kazakhstan's Committee on Statistics.

Enbek.kz is "successfully operating" and already has helped 19,000 Kazakhstanis find jobs, according to Altayev.

Any internet user can access the system online to check available vacancies and apply for jobs.

Eduard Novikov of Almaty is one such user. "I found work through the job centre as an electrician with a [monthly] salary of 120,000 KZT ($373)," he told Caravanserai.

The average salary in Kazakhstan is 163,000 KZT ($510) per month, according to the government.

Novikov said he went through a simple registration process on the website and submitted his job application.

"Anyone in Kazakhstan who wants a job can go to the job placement centre's website and choose the option that is most suitable for them," said Nazerke Miyatova of Almaty, director of the NGO Akyl.

The project owes its success to unifying many sources of information, she said.

"All job openings are gathered together in one place," she told Caravanserai. "[Large, local] employers are now required to report new vacancies to the website."

Two former volunteers at her organisation found permanent jobs through the centre, she added.

"It is a very good project that allows the unemployed to find work and earn money to feed their families," she said.

Bringing the self-employed 'out of the shadows'

In Kazakhstan, 8.6 million adults constitute the workforce, representing a 66.4% participation rate among those age 15 and older, according to the Committee on Statistics.

A survey conducted by the agency at the end of 2017 showed that 10% of employees in Kazakhstan work in adverse or hazardous conditions, while 25% work more than 40 hours per week.

About a quarter of those in the workforce are undocumented, self-employed workers.

"One in four workers in Kazakhstan is self-employed, meaning that his or her employment is not officially documented anywhere," Yevgeny Kryuchkov, a political analyst from Astana, told Caravanserai. Such workers "earn money however they can".

One of the government's goals is to bring the self-employed "out of the shadows", he said.

"They do not pay taxes, nor are they protected against arbitrary acts by their employers," he said. "If you have no employment contract, you have no guarantees. It's not rare to go unpaid or to have your rights as workers violated... in other ways."

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