CAYLA Alumnus Forges New Employment Opportunities in Uzbekistan
In Uzbekistan, youth account for over half the population, according to the latest census. However, as a 2020 UNICEF report points out, an alarming 54.6 percent of people aged 19 to 30 are not involved in education, employment, or training activities. Unemployment is a primary driver of emigration and social dissatisfaction. To reduce the number of unemployed young people in Uzbekistan, Mahmudjon Utkurov started Yosh Menejer, or “Young Manager,” a social project that helps young Uzbekistanis gain valuable soft skills and get a job. Since the launch of the project in 2021, more than 150 people took part in the company’s workshops and networking events and 61 of them successfully landed a job.
“I was studying at a university and looking for an internship or a job. I applied to 20 jobs, and all 20 companies rejected or ignored me,” Mahmudjon recalls. Discouraged, Mahmudjon decided to launch Yosh Menejer. The project started [in 2021] as a three-month social project consisting of workshops from top-trainers, site-visits to top companies, and networking events for Uzbekistan’s young people. “Initially, it was very hard to run my initiative due to the lack of knowledge,” Mahmudjon says. “No one believed in [this idea], and I could not even find a meeting place due to the lack of funds.”
Later Mahmudjon joined the Central Asia Youth Leadership Academy (CAYLA), an initiative of EF’s Social Innovation in Central Asia (SICA) project, and everything changed. With CAYLA, Mahmudjon studied project management, critical thinking, public speaking, monitoring and evaluation, effective leadership, and a variety of fundraising techniques. The knowledge he gained helped him secure sponsors to donate resources, offer free printing services, and provide a regular meeting place for workshops.
Mahmudjon also learned how to spread the word about his initiative among interested Uzbekistanis. Workshop attendance skyrocketed. Overall, the percentage of people who secured jobs thanks to Yosh Menejer rose from 24 percent in the first season to 48 percent in the second and 50 percent in the third. To date, Yosh Menejer has helped 61 youth secure jobs. “CAYLA is one of the main reasons why my project succeeded,” Mahmudjon states.
Nargis Salieva is among the 61 people that secured a job with Yosh Menejer. As an undergraduate student with no prior work experience, Nargis floundered in her job search. “During the workshops [at Yosh Menejer], I gained knowledge in project management, finance, marketing, and human resources. At that time, I was studying [at a local university] and was very interested in macroeconomics. I wrote a paper on the economic analysis of the trans-Afghan corridor and was lucky to show it to Uzbekistan’s head of the Assembly of Economy during one of Yosh Menejer’s networking events,” Nargis shares. “I was very surprised when I learned that the Head of the Assembly actually read the paper and was so impressed by it that he invited me for an interview.” Nargis started out coordinating a department within the Assembly of Economy. Now, she heads the department of Uzbekistan’s Center for Development of Strategic Projects.
For Mahmudjon, examples like this are proof that he is doing the right thing. “When [Yosh Menejer’s] participants succeed, I realize how important what I am doing is. My mission is to guide young people to find their passion and contribute to the economic development of Uzbekistan.”
For more from Mahmudjon, check out his story in his own words!