25 July 2023
Empowering young people through remote working and digital skilling
In Tajikistan, UNICEF is supporting the development of demand-driven skills and the creation of remote employment opportunities for the most disadvantaged young people, through digital impact sourcing. "Today's young people need 21st Century digital skilling opportunities. They need the capacity to be creative and to develop innovative thinking. These skills are essential for young people’s employability in the future,"- Mavrigul Qosumbekova, founder of ‘Data Entry Center’ in Khorog, Tajikistan. Mavrigul Qosumbekova, 29, lives in Khorog city - home to around 32,000 people. Khorog city is one of the most difficult and remote areas in Tajikistan, with very few learning and employment opportunities for young people. But Mavrigul is changing the opportunity landscape in this region through digital impact sourcing. Enabler for a better employment of disadvantaged young people "When I was a teenager, I dreamed of starting my own business and helping people in my region by creating employment opportunities," recalls Mavrigul. Since 2017, Mavrigul has been running a local digital outsourcing company ‘Data Entry Center’, which provides more than 500 businesses based in the United States with data entry, customer relations management systems services and preparation of financial reports. Currently her startup company employs 45 young people from Khorog and other cities, with employees aged between 22 to 35. Before starting her own digital outsourcing company, Mavrigul helped set up the 'Pamir Innovation Hub' - a local NGO that aimed to create new employment opportunities for young people through training and networking with businesses around the world. “With the support of UNICEF and with funding from the European Union, we received IT equipment and training to help provide young people in Khorog with basic IT skills. We then connect them with potential employers through digital impact outsourcing," -shares Mavrigul. The ‘Pamir Innovation Hub’ is a platform to create employment opportunities for disadvantaged young people through innovative digital solutions. Through tailored training and networking, young people gain skills and opportunities for remote employment. “When we opened the ‘Pamir Innovation Hub’ we were confident it would bring positive results, as the needs in the region were huge and we were approached by many young people aspiring to study and work in the field of IT,”-says Mavrigul. Impact sourcing as a solution to address labor migration in Tajikistan amongst young people In Tajikistan, young people are the most vulnerable when it comes to education and the transition from school to employment. With over half a million young people in NEET (not in education, employment or training), 30 per cent of them live in Khorog. There is also a significant gender gap - young Tajik women are less likely to be in employment or education than young men: 49 per cent of women aged 15-24 compared to 7 per cent of men. UNICEF supported desk reviews and studies on marginalization and on the exclusion of adolescents and young people aged 10-24 years in Tajikistan confirmed that poor education – along with lack of opportunities for meaningful employment in the country once the young people leave school – drive high rates of mostly outbound migration among young people (females make up approximately 18 per cent of these migrants). These adolescents and young people are dissatisfied with the economic situation, quality of education and lack of decent work opportunities. Impact sourcing is a business practice whereby companies hire people from disadvantaged communities. Through impact sourcing, companies provide employment opportunities to individuals who may not have access to traditional employment opportunities. " I believe that digital impact sourcing is one of the most appropriate solutions to prevent the brain drain and migration of young people in our region as it brings a positive impact both on these young people and on the communities in which they live," says Mavrigul. Skills for employability in the rapidly changing world According to a 2018 report by the Institute for The Future (IFTF), 85 per cent of the jobs that will exist in 2030 haven't even been invented yet. Given the rapid evolution of technologies and the global need for demand-driven skills, it is critical to ensure that the most disadvantaged young people learn the skills to compete in global markets and become economically resilient. In Tajikistan, to address the needs of young people, UNICEF launched the Impact Sourcing initiative, which aims at training young people in demand driven skills (such as ICT, web design and development, working with the accounting softwares, etc.) and giving them access to alternative employment opportunities by importing digital jobs to Tajikistan. The Impact Sourcing initiative, currently being implemented by the Pamir Innovation Hub (PIH) in the city of Khorog, in partnership with the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Migration, is helping to create an industry of outsourced work that benefits young people like Sayod Muminshoev, one of Mavrigul’s employees. “Working in digital outsource has helped me in different ways. I now earn a decent wage. I also improved my skills, and I am financially supporting my family,” – said Sayod Muminshoev, 24, who has been working with Mavrigul for over five years now. As for Mavrigul, she has plans to expand her company's services and create another fifty job opportunities for young people in Khorog and beyond. We wish her luck and thank our donors and partners for investing in young people!