Статьи журнала "Современное образование"

Sholpan Utelbayeva | WorldSkills: everyone can express themselves An interview with Sholpan Utelbayeva, Head of NJSC “Talap”

An interview with Sh. A. Utelbaeva, the President of NJSC “Talap”

At all times, people with certain skills have been valued. In the past, their labour was low paid, they were exploited, at other times their contribution to the prosperity of the country became obvious, society had respect for such people, footages were shot about them, books were written, stories were told in the news, their achievements were printed in newspapers. But the truth always remains the same, and it is clear to everyone that people of vocational professions are the basis for the development of any industry. To understand this, you can simply imagine that they don't exist. Then there will be no one in fulfilling the intricate dreams of engineers, architects and other specialists, and they will remain on paper. Considering it, the state has firmly started to popularize vocational jobs and support in giving education to those who wish to be adepts. Free technical and vocational education for all, provided under the most open and favourable conditions, plays a major role in it. And participation in the international WorldSkills movement, which Kazakhstan joined ten years ago, demonstrates that vocational professions are prestigious and exciting, and mastering them provides stable employment and decent wages. Sholpan Utelbaeva, the President of the Kazakhstan’s WorldSkills operator NJSC“Talap”, answers our editorial board's questions about this movement.

– Sholpan Anuarbekovna, what does the WorldSkills movement give to young people? What prospects await college graduates - participants of WorldSkills, what salaries, labour conditions? Are they willingly hired for work?

– WorldSkills is not just a competition, it is a centre of excellence and skill development. Today, this international movement raises the standards of professional training in 85 countries and holds regional, national and world championships and continental championships under its auspices.
Kazakhstan has been a full member of WorldSkills since 2014, which became the basis for revising the national system of technical and vocational education training in accordance with new requirements.
Participation in international championships gave an opportunity to study current global trends in the training of vocational professions, as well as to compare and assess the competitiveness of domestic personnel.

If you are asking about the future of technical and professional education graduates, it's certainly employment. After all, participants of professional skills contests demonstrate their work skills, and employers are interested in getting such employees for their production facilities. For example, the winners of the 2023 Republican Championship and the EuroSkills International Championship in Gdansk (Poland) started their professional careers at WorldSkills partner companies, such as Welding Company, 1С Kazakhstan, Grohe, Eurasian Paints, Bosch, Teplomart, Knauf and others.

– What about the skills-passport? Has it already been firmly put into practice?

– Vocational education is already oriented towards the use of WorldSkills international standards in training.

More than half of the colleges in the country hold demonstration exams. One of its principles in realising it is publicity and openness. A special area has been allocated for employers from where they can observe the exam or even assess papers. The exam can also be monitored online.
Following the demonstration exam, the Skills Passport - an electronic passport of a professional as an appendix along with the diploma is given to the graduate. Employers can see how many scores and for which vocational skills a graduate has been awarded.
– NJSC “Talap” is the operator of the WorldSkills movement in Kazakhstan. How is its structure and relations with the parent organisation in our country built?

– NJSC “Talap” was appointed as the National Operator of WorldSkills in the Republic of Kazakhstan by Decree № 22 of the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan on 20 January 2015. The collegial body of the WorldSkills Kazakhstan movement is the General Assembly, which includes the national operator, representatives of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Kazakhstan, technical delegates from 20 regions and our partners. At the General Assembly gatherings, strategic issues for the development of the movement are discussed and solved.

The chain of WorldSkills championships in our country is structured in such a way that first the competitions are held at the regional level. Every spring, each region holds a competition on professions (or, as we call them, competences) relevant for that region, where the best representatives of colleges compete for the title of the champion of the region and the right to represent it at the next stage - the republican championship. Traditionally, the republican championship is held at the end of the year in Astana in thirty competences on the basis of the International Exhibition Centre EXPO. The winners of the republican championship, having mastered their skills in training camps, are selected for the national team of the Republic of Kazakhstan and demonstrate their skills at the WorldSkills and Euroskills international championships.
To date, in total, more than one hundred regional and eight republican championships of WorldSkills Kazakhstan have been held, as well as participation of the national team of the Republic of Kazakhstan in eight international WorldSkills championships have been organised.
As mentioned above, Kazakhstan has been a full member of WorldSkills International since 2014. We joined WorldSkills Europe in 2016, concluded relevant agreements with these companies.

Annually, within the framework of these agreements, we, as a company dealing with the WorldSkills movement in Kazakhstan, take part in events held by WorldSkills International and WorldSkills Europe, such as general assemblies, weeks of preparation for championships, and various international forums.

– What training areas are covered by WorldSkills today, what is the reason of their choice, will this list of areas be expanded? Does the interest of industries in specific personnel coincide with the students’ desire to obtain this or that qualification?

– As we are part of the movement as official participants, competences that are popular in the world are prioritised. The international competition assesses the level of professional competence of participants in more than 63 technical competences in 6 directions: construction technologies, manufacturing and engineering technologies, information and communication technologies, creativity and design, services, civil transportation services.

WSI not only develops professional skills and competences, but also forms professional standards in the production areas represented at the championship.

The key distinguishing feature of the competition is the assessment of learning outcomes according to WorldSkills requirements with a modern multi-criteria assessment method.

In our opinion, the new attestation format also has a number of advantages.

Firstly, tasks for each profession are formed on the basis of real requirements of an industry: for example, a programmer needs to develop an application, a hairdresser needs to make a haircut or a beautiful hairstyle. The task must be completed in a certain amount of time, using equipment and consumables that are likely to be handled in the real workplace. Employers can contribute to the assignment, bringing it even closer to their realities.

Secondly, the result of the work is assessed on a 100-point scale - this is the level of highest excellence in each job, scores are awarded for multiple aspects, with the wording of each reflecting specific competencies for each job.

Thirdly, the completed assignment is evaluated by independent experts, including experts from the representatives of companies.

In response to your question whether the interest of industries in specific personnel coincides with the desire of students to obtain this or that qualification, we can answer that,
first of all, preparation of experts that are in demand all over the world and necessary for the economy of our country is aimed at improving the skills of young people for those industries that have modern equipment, who are willing and able to develop.
– How are employers- companies involved in the movement? In general, are they willing to co-operate with colleges, do they help in forming the learning process, what are their motivations?

– Over the course of the championships, we have developed a certain base of sponsor partners who provide tremendous assistance in organising and conducting the competitions in terms of providing the competition venues with the necessary equipment, facilities and tools, and the contestants with consumables.

Today we cooperate with such global brands as Bosch, Grohe, ASAB, 1C Kazakhstan, Welding Company, Eurasian Paints, Teplomart, KNAUF, Neka trade, PS Internet Company. Our partners participate not only in awarding the winners of championships, but also in their further employment.

We have to admit that our partners are not in all competences.
We are open to cooperate with business-structures, as by co-operating with the education system, companies will make a huge contribution to the training of qualified personnel necessary for Kazakhstan’s economy.
– What investment is required from the college to participate in WorldSkills championships, to prepare its team? What would you recommend to colleges that desire to participate but there are some obstacles, perhaps finance, lacking a base?

– Definitely, training a specialist is not cheap, and funding per capita in colleges is still insufficient. But today, colleges are already able to produce goods and services and offer them to society. The purchased equipment must not lie idle and “rust”, but must work and actively participate in business processes.

Practice organised on such venues both provide an opportunity to improve the skills of graduates and is the best tool in overcoming any obstacles. If training programmes are correlated with global standards for specialist training, in which theory and practice are aimed at improving skills, then the training will be effective and close to the realities of the modern world. These are our recommendations.

– What regions or cities are leading now and what do you think the reason of it is?

– According to the results of the past years, Abay region (formerly East Kazakhstan Oblast), Shymkent, Almaty, Astana and Akmola region are the leaders in the team competition.

In our opinion, this is due to the level of infrastructure of colleges in the region, the competence of the expert community and the full preparation of the contestants.

– Do many people go to university after college, or do they prefer to get a job straight away? Does participation in WorldSkills contribute to university enrolment?

– A total of 138,546 people graduated from technical and professional educational organisations of Kazakhstan in 2021-2022, 68.87% of whom were employed and 9.26% entered universities.
Successful participation in the WorldSkills movement serves as evidence of the high quality of learning at the institution and contributes to the development of personal qualities such as determination, team spirit, organisational skills and the ability to work under pressure. Therefore, such skills are highly valued when applying for university.
WorldSkills competitions are focused on practical use of professional skills in real-life conditions. Participation in them enables young people to develop and improve competitive skills necessary in the labour market.

– Last year, NJSC “Talap” set a goal to train 9,000 college professionals in continuing education courses. Did the planned end successfully? What results are now expected in regions? What place was given to WorldSkills in the training programmes?

– Today, in the system of technical and vocational education of our country, WorldSkills standards are taken into account in personnel training to improve the content of educational programmes, career guidance, teacher training, assessment of students’ results, etc.

Last year, over 600 people were trained through the programme “Training and Certification of Experts in Worldskills Standards”, most of whom were college teachers. The courses included issues of turning professional standards into the assessment criteria to be used in the learning process.

- It was reported that 321 principals and 900 deputy principals of colleges were to be trained in management and innovative management style. Tell us briefly about this educational programme. What is the main innovation in the management of the college?

– Last year, 321 principals and 879 deputy principals completed professional development courses for educational, methodological, training and production work.

At present, many colleges are transferring to the right of economic management and becoming full-fledged participants of market relations. Dynamic and progressive development of innovation processes in the education system of the Republic of Kazakhstan, introduction of corporate governance principles as one of the aims set in the Concept of development of pre-school, secondary, technical and vocational education of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2023-2029, have indicated the need for qualitative changes in the structure, strategy and tactics of management in colleges.

In this regard, the content of educational programmes is aimed at mastering the basic fundamentals of corporate governance, competencies that develop the strategic thinking of college managers, improving knowledge in the field of finance. The programme modules also included specifics of work with social partners, development of educational programmes taking into account the requirements of employers and WSK standards.

– Lyon, a French city will host the next WorldSkills International Championship between September 10 and 15, 2024. What bright talents from colleges will represent our country, in which competences?

– In current September, EuroExpo Lyon will host the 2024 WorldSkills International Championship in 62 competences with the participation of 69 countries. Kazakhstan has been registered in 30 competences.

At the moment the composition of Kazakhstan’s national team has not been identified yet. The final list of contestants will be known in April-May after selection following the training camps.

We have identified international experts who will prepare contestants for the competition and participate in the championship itself as experts-compatriots.

At the same time, the motivation of the contestants is very important, whether they are ready to sacrifice their personal life to spend all their free time preparing for competitions, travelling to trainings and so on. We form the composition of the national team based on the results of the finals of the republican championship.

It should be noted here
that the most important thing for us is to honourably show our country on the world stage, to prove our professionalism and to take prizes. And at the award ceremony, when the guys stand on the podium, holding the flag of Kazakhstan in their hands, it doesn't matter at all what region they are from. They are winners from Kazakhstan! It’s important.
– Can we say today that the vocational profession is prestigious?

– Over recent years, Kazakhstan has been actively developing, and as part of this development, considerable attention has been paid to the development of vocational education and improving the quality of the labour force. In this regard, vocational professions in Kazakhstan are beginning to acquire a new status and are assessed by society and the state. In a dynamic economic environment, vocational professions, especially those related to infrastructure projects, construction, energy and mining industries, can provide stable employment and good salaries.

Many vocational professions play a key role in the development of Kazakhstan's economy, so their contribution to the public welfare is recognised and valued.

Today, the state pays special attention to the introduction of state programmes to develop vocational education and prepare vocational professions, which demonstrates the importance and priority of this area for the government.

In general, given the active development of the economy and attention to the development of human resources, vocational professions in Kazakhstan can be perceived as prestigious and important for society.
We believe that WorldSkills helps to change stereotypes about craft and technical professions by demonstrating their importance and value.
Throughout nine years of our involvement in this movement, we have been encouraging more young people to study these areas to reduce skills shortages.

Within WorldSkills, participants can present innovative solutions and technologies in their fields. This can stimulate the development of innovation and technological progress of the country.


Шолпан Утельбаева, президент НАО «Talap», оператора международного движения WorldSkills в Казахстане, рассказывает об участии казахстанских колледжей в этом движении. На сегодняшний день проведено более ста региональных и восемь республиканских чемпионатов WorldSkills Kazakhstan, а также организовано участие национальной сборной РК в восьми международных чемпионатах WorldSkills. Участники соревнований получают приглашения от работодателей и получают преимущества при поступлении в высшие учебные заведения по своей профессии.
Magazine articles - Modern Education (Kazakhstan)
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