Last year there were a lot of solutions that contributed to the improvement of the welfare of the population.
Responsible ministries and agencies in collaboration with civil society organizations and NGOs solved the problems of unemployment, improved social and labour protection. Aziz Abdukhakimov shared his insight on the most important endeavors in this direction in an exclusive interview with Uzbekistan Today.
Aziz Abdukaharovich, which part of the Ministry's work in the past year can be described as the most difficult and responsible?
- All the activities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare were directed towards the implementation of the major priorities of social and economic development as defined by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers on January 16, 2015 .We are all well aware of how important solving issues like unemployment is from the perspective of economic development, it is also important for the social well-being of workers and their families. Last year more than 990,400 jobs were created, instead of the planned 987.5 thousand. In the framework of targeted programs more than 265 thousand jobs were created. Experts of the Ministry were monitoring the implementation of programs to create jobs and employment, addressing issues of compliance and improving legislation on protection of labour.
What issues would you like to highlight in regards to employment of population?
- First of all, we must pay attention and support the graduates of professional colleges that have expressed a desire to start their own business. In all regions of the country we held "Open Days for starting your own businesses." As part of these accelerators, they were given an opportunity to execute all of the documents necessary to start a business. The experts from all the services led reception directly in the colleges for a few days. In general we have conducted a lot of employment work with college graduates. Over 90% of 2014/2015 graduates are employed. Importantly, we are developing a system supporting the professional retraining of the unemployed. In Samarkand, we have started the construction of a second centre of vocational education in the country in collaboration with our Korean partners. It will be created by analogy with already functioning centre in Tashkent. Temporary unemployed will be given free training in these centres, equipped with modern industrial equipment, in order to qualify for positions in the leading industries of the country. The Tashkent centre achieved 100% employment of its graduates, within the first month after the completion of the training.
There is a lot of talk about the need to improve the system of labour protection in the workplace and compliance with labour laws. What has been done in this direction?
- In this regard, we managed to achieve significant results. In particular, the experts of the International Labour Organization recognized, that Uzbekistan made significant progress in the prevention of instances of child labour abuse and forced labour. The task of every child is to learn. All necessary conditions for the 12-year education were created in the country. In fact, each of them is entering life with a specialized diploma. At the same time, the government conducted strict control over the observance of the child's right to receive state-guaranteed free education. The State Labour Inspection was very active last year. Unfortunately, violations of safety standards were detected. I want to take this opportunity to draw the attention of the employers to the observance of labour legislation and the observance of safety regulations. Ministry is working hard to improve the regulatory documents in accordance with the requirements of the time. Just this year, we developed and implemented more than 170 regulations on labour safety in different sectors of the economy.
The issues of labour migration remain relevant. What has been done to ensure that this process is happening in accordance with the law?
- As you know, the Agency for External Labor Migration under the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Population is leading the work in this direction. In 2015, the Agency issued about 1.5 thousand permits to employ foreign labour force and more than 4.8 acknowledgments to the right to attract labor activity to the territory of Uzbekistan. We carried out activities to support Uzbek citizens traveling abroad to work, in the framework of the relevant agreements with Korea and Japan. Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Uzbekistan, the Agency is considering establishing cooperation in the field of labour migration with other developed countries-recipients.
What successes have been achieved in the field of social protection of the population?
- 2015 was declared the "Year of care for the older generation," by the initiative of the President, Islam Karimov, and there was a lot of improvement of social work carried out in this direction. Among the most important events was the adoption of the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers "On measures to further strengthen targeted social protection and support for the elderly and disabled." The system of social services for the elderly living alone, at home was improved, they are provided with free food and hygiene products. At the same time, we began large-scale work on strengthening material and technical conditions in the boarding houses for the elderly and disabled "Sahovat" and "Muruvvat", as well as the resorts of the Ministry of Labour and social welfare, who specialize in the rehabilitation of our seniors.
I would like to emphasize, that with the introduction of modern information and communication technology, the Ministry has become more open to the requests of the population. In the past year, it created a multi-channel call-center. Any citizen can obtain comprehensive information on employment and social protection in Uzbekistan by calling 200-06-00 at any time. The same information can also be found on the official website of the Ministry www.mehnat.uz. Currently, the site provides information on vacancies throughout the country. Interactive services were implemented. Today, through the single portal of interactive government services, one can apply for social services online, request documents necessary for registration in the boarding house "Sahovat" or "Muruvvat". It is also possible to register as unemployed, apply for benefits for childbirth and childcare.
What are the plans of the Ministry for 2016?
- Continuation of the work, the implementation of new initiatives. In accordance with the program of job creation and employment across sectors and territories over 396 900 new jobs will be created in 2016: over 130,7 thousand placements in the industry, more than 54,500 in the fields of the processing of agricultural products (including livestock, poultry, horticulture, aquaculture, beekeeping, horticulture, sericulture, viticulture), 56,600 in construction, 39,700 in social infrastructure, and 8000 new jobs due to the recovery of activity of more than 45 idle companies. In general, it is planned to employ more than 992,700 people in 2016, by current estimates. It is also expected to adopt a new version of the Law "On Labour Protection". We need to put the relevant system in accordance with this document in place. One of the priorities of the Social Work in 2016 will be the approval of the State program "Year of Mother and Child Health" and the State program for further strengthening and developing of social protection systems for single elderly, pensioners and people with disabilities until 2020.