September 23, 2022, Tashkent, Uzbekistan – The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), together with the Ministry of Public Education, officially launched a five-year Youth Employment Skills (YES) program in Uzbekistan with a budget of $10 million. The program will increase the readiness and potential for employment of students in grades 8-11 by teaching them the necessary skills to enter the economy of Uzbekistan by competent specialists and entrepreneurs. The program will include both in-school and out-of-school activities with a focus on empowering young women and youth with disabilities — groups that remain underserved and underrepresented in Uzbekistan’s economy.
Emphasizing the importance of developing the youth workforce, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. Paul Politis said, “The US Government is proud to partner with the Department of Public Education in its efforts to empower young people to make their own career choices and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to successfully contribute to the social – economic development of Uzbekistan”.
USAID Mission Director Michaela Meredith added: “The YES program in Uzbekistan has a strong focus on empowering girls and youth with disabilities. We know that girls and youth with disabilities are grossly underrepresented in employment and therefore remain underserved and an untapped resource for Uzbekistan.”
USAID will develop and improve entrepreneurship and economics curricula and teaching methods, prioritizing hands-on learning. The program provides for regular collaboration with the private sector to ensure that the knowledge and skills that young people acquire are relevant to the labor market in Uzbekistan. USAID will also provide opportunities for hands-on learning for youth, including internships, mentoring, and supervising the work of professionals. The program will be implemented by the American Councils for International Education in conjunction with a consortium of local and international partners.
The official launch ceremony was attended by various stakeholders, including government representatives, private sector representatives, international organizations, local non-governmental organizations and various beneficiaries of the event. The ceremony culminated in a speech by two young Uzbek entrepreneurs, Dilmurad Yusupov and Malika Sharapova, who shared their personal experiences of overcoming adversity and becoming successful entrepreneurs. Both young business leaders talked about the potential of the YES program to help young people in Uzbekistan succeed in the labor market and develop the economy as entrepreneurs.