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University credentials and labour market skills in post-Soviet Tajikistan

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Education is generally argued to be a critical factor in human development and important for achieving a broad range of social, economic, political and humanitarian goals in post-Soviet Tajikistan. Over the past few years, the numbers of schools and universities have increased with a high enrolment and academic achievement rates. Yet, skill shortages are being argued to be a key barrier to firms’ expansion and an important constraint to economic growth. This raises an important question of: why are skills argued to be a critical constraint, if higher education is expanding and producing ‘notable outputs? * Utilising a mixed method approach, this paper examines perceptions of recently employed university graduates and their employers about a) quality and relevance of higher education degrees and b) graduates’ competency in employment skills and experience in transitioning to a workplace. There are no previous studies that have taken into account perceptions and experiences of university students, nor perceptions of their employers, in order to understand the nature of mismatch between higher education credentials and labour market demand for skills in Tajikistan? Previous studies have relied mainly upon supply and demand issues, omitting important aspects of education quality and relevance and type of skills acquired. This study can contribute to the literature on higher education and skills debate, by addressing contextual challenges and dysfunctions within the Tajik education sector, and suggest policy reform that can assist in filling the skills gap in the domestic labour market.

This talk is part of the FERSA Lunchtime Sessions series.

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