Career advice services for students and graduates are neglected in many education institutions in Kyrgyzstan. Even where their importance is acknowledged, the lack of innovation or responsiveness to individual student needs hamper the effectiveness of career services. USAID’s Education Loan Program implemented by the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia and Association of Educational Institutions “EdNet” is improving this situation by strengthening all 17 university career centers in the country. The program has established a Support Center in Bishkek which trains career center staff, and students directly, and links career centers with local businesses and other employers.
“Our Career Center helps students of our university with employment opportunities, and other support and resources. Before, department heads and the internship department were all responsible for helping students find internships. It was hard to see the overall situation with internships and employment; there was no system to oversee all activities related to the student employment,” said Jenish Batyrkanov, a vice president of the Kyrgyz Technical University.
Furthermore, the staff of the Kyrgyz Technical University career center had been cut. But following training organized under the USAID program the administration of the university recognized the need for a strong career center, and decided to support and resume its work. This training to build institutional and operational capacity of career centers was attended by the directors of the 17 university career centers.
Two full time staff were recruited to work at the center and today the center is successfully offering services and support to the university students and graduates. The center’s staff plans further improvement and expansion of their services, including launching an alumni association.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t really aware of the capabilities of the career center,” noted Mr. Batyrkanov, “The center now works closely with the students and alumni to support them in their careers, and has achieved good results in a short time. I’m sure the center will help us not only by supporting our students, but also by improving the image and quality of the university and attracting young people.”