Low-skilled workers from Central Asia are often the first to be laid off.Tajikistan is hugely dependent on the funds sent home by its expat workforce, but as the Russian economy sheds low-skilled labour, experts are calling for better training so that those travelling abroad have more to offer.
Almost all of the one million-plus nationals of Tajikistan working abroad go to Russia, and three-quarters of them are in the building trade. Russia’s construction industry has been hard hit by declining investment, and foreign manual workers are the first to be sacked.
Education experts say Tajikistan needs better vocational training, and a shift in focus away from humanities towards technical subjects at university level.
Juma Ilyasov is a rare success story. He spent more than ten years in unskilled jobs in Russia, but he has a technology-based university degree from Tajikistan, and once he had a chance to demonstrate his skills, he was promoted to become overall foreman position at a major construction firm in Moscow.
Many migrant workers, however, still come to Russia with few qualifications and a limited grasp of the language, which leaves them at the lower end of a contracting job market.
Galim Faskhutdinov is a radio journalist in Tajikistan.
This audio programme went out in Russian and Tajik on national radio stations in Tajikistan. It was produced under two IWPR projects: Empowering Media and Civil Society Activists to Support Democratic Reforms in Tajikistan, funded by the European Union, and Strengthening Capacities, Bridging Divides in Central Asia, funded by the Foreign Ministry of Norway. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of IWPR and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of either the European Union or the Norwegian foreign ministry.