Jobs and the Future of Work

Sustainability and upskilling are driving Central Asia's future workforce

Employers in the region are in desperate need to hire skilled workers, upskill talent, and retain the workforce.

Employers in the region are in desperate need to hire skilled workers, upskill talent, and retain the workforce. Image: Jose Pablo/Unsplash

Ricky Li
Insight and Data Lead, World Economic Forum
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  • In Central Asia, investments driving green transition are poised to be the biggest job creators, according to the Future of Jobs Report 2023.
  • 37% of organizations in the region are showing a strong interest in utilizing public-private partnerships for funding reskilling and upskilling, according to the report.
  • In Türkiye, at least 56% of jobs are being created due to climate-induced investments.

Central Asia has witnessed economic growth and development over the past decade. However, the growth is accompanied by a structural labour-market mismatch between supply and demand, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The war in Ukraine has resulted in unprecedented migration flow, creating unstable inflow and outflow of the labour force and job insecurity for workers. The pandemics have also further hit the informal economy and workforce, particularly among the vulnerable groups, but the region has yet to recover. Employers in the region are in desperate need to hire skilled workers, upskill talent, and retain the workforce.

Covering 45 countries, the World Economic Forum's latest Future of Jobs Report 2023 discovered three outstanding trends that are unique to the region.

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  • The Future of Jobs Report 2023

The Green and technological transformation are catalysts for regional job creation

Investments aimed at facilitating a green transition are not just ethical or environmental imperatives - they're economic ones. According to the Future of Jobs Survey data, investments to facilitate the green transition of businesses are expected to be the biggest job creator in the region, followed by broader applications of ESG standards. Such a trend is particularly evident in Türkiye, where climate-change-induced investment has the highest net share of job creation, 56% vs. 44% globally. In Kazakhstan, the Global Cleantech Innovation Program (GCIP) aims to promote green jobs in the country by supporting innovation in green technologies.

While the green transition is an unstoppable force, technological transformation is its parallel companion. For instance, AI and Machine Learning specialist tops the growing jobs list in Türkiye with projected net growth at 39%, while Data Analysts and Scientists is expected to grow 27% in Kazakhstan in the next five years.

More Central Asian employers tend to invest in protection and flexibility to boost talent availability

As countries strive to boost economic performance, workplace safety and well-being are rising as critical concerns, particularly in Central Asia where the issues are exacerbated by both natural and man-made challenges. 22% of Central Asia employers, compared with 15% globally, are interested in improving working hours and overtime. 16% of the companies in the region are willing to enhance safety in the workplace, a higher proportion than 8% globally. This figure is confirmed in Kazakhstan, where, of the workforce of 8.9 million, more than 1.6 million (18.6%) people worked in harmful and unfavourable conditions.

Suffering from unprecedented heat waves, according to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, workers in the region are more likely to suffer from heat stress, given a higher share of the economic structure is driven by sectors such as Agriculture, Oil and Gas, and Construction.

In Georgia, for instance, almost half of the employers (43%) would like to invest in improving working hours and overtime, and one-third would like to improve safety in the workplace, to bridge their talent gap. In Kazakhstan, the government is championing the Concept of Safe Work document to prevent and eliminate occupational hazards at the workplace. In Türkiye, while occupational Safety and Health (OSH) violations were not uncommon in certain sectors, the dangerous situation of workplace safety was further complicated by the devastating earthquakes. Here, international intervention has been urgently needed to help the local labour market recover.

Central Asian companies see potential for public-private partnerships to fund reskilling and upskilling

37% of organizations surveyed in the region would like to use public-private hybrid funding for their training, reskilling and upskilling efforts, compared with 24% globally. More than two-fifths of companies surveyed in Georgia (47%) and Kazakhstan (40%), prefer such funding sources. In terms of training type, the internal training department, selected by 23% of Central Asian employers, is the most preferred option in the region, followed by on-the-job training and coaching and private-sector online-learning platforms.

Central Asian companies are also ambitious to close the gap in training accessibility in the next five years. Companies in Türkiye and Georgia both look to increase training accessibility by 22%, respectively, compared with 19% globally. The efforts in Georgia are strengthened by national-level efforts in a vocational training program, where participants receive a certificate issued and recognized nationwide.

These statistics and cases indicate a heightened awareness among Central Asian businesses and policymakers about the collective responsibility to upskill the workforce for future challenges, and re-emphasize how public-private partnerships in training and development could serve as viable solutions to speed up the upskilling process.

For more information on how the jobs and skills will evolve in the next five years, check out the Future of Jobs Report 2023 and its data explorer, where you can find more data and insights of the country and the region. TSU Center for Analysis and Forecasting in Georgia, Center for Strategic Initiatives LPP in Kazakhstan, and TÜSIAD, Sabanci University Competitiveness Forum - REF in Türkiye are the Future of Jobs Survey partners who disseminated the survey and contributed to the insight of the region.

To read more on how the World Economic Forum is transforming the working world through its Skills Accelerator global network, click here.

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