The Business Year

Salim Muslumov

AZERBAIJAN - Health & Education

Hard at Work

Minister of Labor and Social Protection, Azerbaijan


Salim Muslumov graduated from the Azerbaijan Institute of National Economy in 1983, and continued to postgraduate education in Moscow State University until 1987. From 1988 to 1995, he worked as a lecturer, senior lecturer, and assistant dean at Azerbaijan State Economic University. He then worked as department chief at the Ministry of Finance from July 1995 until March 2000. Subsequently, he was promoted to Major-General of the Customs Service, and was elected Bureau Member of the International Social Security Association in 2004. He served as Chairman of the State Social Protection Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan until 2013, and was then invited to his current post. He is the author of four books and over 50 scientific articles.

This year marked the beginning of the third term in office for President Ilham Aliyev. What does this new era mean for the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of […]

This year marked the beginning of the third term in office for President Ilham Aliyev. What does this new era mean for the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population?

This election was one of the biggest contributors to the prospects for Azerbaijan’s future development. The people of Azerbaijan exercised their suffrage in a free, democratic, and transparent manner and cast their votes of appreciation for the country’s achievements in the political, public, and economic spheres. The people have voted for the further successful development of Azerbaijan on the basis of the principles of sustainable development, political stability, and social justice under the leadership of Ilham Aliyev, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. As a result of the successful reforms carried out in Azerbaijan in recent years, our society-oriented national economy has become fully integrated into the global economy, the achievements made have been further reinforced, macroeconomic stability has been maintained, economic diversification into non-oil sectors and regional development have accelerated, and government assistance for private sector development has further expanded. This has led to a dramatic reduction in the levels of poverty and unemployment, a tangible improvement in the standard of living, and greater social security for the most vulnerable categories of the population. The next stage of the country’s development also envisages a focus on social aspects. As is the case in all other areas, this requires the modernization of the governance system on the basis of new approaches. All of these processes have paved the way for the application of new approaches on the part of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population, which implements the social policies of the state. These approaches require the implementation of the tasks stipulated under the “Azerbaijan 2020: Vision for the Future” development concept and call for a restructuring of the Ministry’s activities through the establishment of new subordinated agencies.

What were the Ministry’s main accomplishments in 2013 and what are you looking to achieve over 2014?

Extensive work has been carried out to protect the labor rights of Azerbaijani citizens, improve employment opportunities, reinforce the social protection of the population, provide state benefits to the lower-income population, prepare various regulatory documents in relation to presidential pensions and other social benefits, as well as to develop and implement pilot projects, study best international practices, and modernize the system of social protection as a whole. As a result of the successful implementation of the state program on the implementation of the employment strategy in Azerbaijan covering the 2011-2015 period, approved by order of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated November 15, 2011, as well as other state programs of a social nature, we have succeeded in dramatically reducing the level of unemployment, enhancing the social protection of the vulnerable population, modernizing the plight of the labor market, improving the quality and competitiveness of labor reserves, and developing human capital in cooperation with relevant government agencies. The implementation of the Social Protection Development project jointly with the World Bank has helped us improve the quality of the services provided to the jobless, job seekers, and socially sensitive population, strengthen the capacity of the State Employment Service and the State Labor Inspectorate, create an information management system for the State Employment Service, modernize vocational training for youngsters, prepare and introduce vocational and training programs in accordance with ISCO 88/08, and put in place a system of social protection for the unemployed and job seekers, all meeting contemporary international standards. In 2014, the main focus of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population will be on improving the housing conditions of people with disabilities and the families of martyrs, while also providing disabled war veterans with motor vehicles and benefits. In addition, leaning on the best international practice, we intend to continue working to further improve the system of medical and social rehabilitation, introducing new types of rehabilitation services, aligning the disability criteria with international standards, providing those in need of social assistance with adequate services, engaging qualified professionals, eliminating the factors that can potentially lead to irregularity, and building the relationship between civil servants and citizens in accordance with ethical standards.

“Extensive work has been carried out to protect the labor rights of Azerbaijani citizens.”

In what ways can technology and innovation increase employment opportunities for Azerbaijan’s youth?

The announcement of 2013 as the Year of ICT in Azerbaijan was primarily intended to facilitate the development of e-government and promote the introduction of electronic services. Specific work was carried out to introduce state-of-the-art service mechanisms, eliminate situations that may lead to cases of corruption and bribery, and to minimize the scope of relations between government officials and citizens. The introduction of financial and tax breaks for employers hiring young specialists, the alignment of the educational system with the growing needs of the national economy, greater focus on the development of vocational education, the provision of uninterrupted educational opportunities, the establishment of job fairs for young people, and a number of other activities have been very helpful. On the one hand, the introduction of new technologies and innovations will enable young people to promptly acquire information about vacancies, employer specialization requirements, and job descriptions, facilitating their integration into the labor market and helping them develop their knowledge and skills using modular and multimedia technologies based on competitive educational and training programs. The development of technologies and innovation will provide an impetus to the creation of new industrial enterprises based on local raw materials and the application of cutting-edge technologies, playing an important role in the sustainable development of the non-oil sector, including the creative economy based on intellectual property and tourism infrastructure, and inevitably lead to the greater employment of young specialists in these enterprises. In addition, as part of the Social Protection Development project implemented jointly by the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population and the World Bank, local and international experts have carried out activities to improve employment opportunities for young people. This work was aimed at facilitating the selection of the right job, expanding employment opportunities, improving consultation work, eliminating long-term unemployment through the application of advanced techniques, streamlining labor market programs, and preparing 200 professional and associated standards, 52 vocational profiles, and 43 modular training programs.

How do foreign companies contribute to the training of the Azerbaijani workforce?

Azerbaijan’s economic achievements have made our country attractive to a foreign workforce. One of the objectives set forth by President Ilham Aliyev is to protect the domestic market from a non-qualified foreign workforce and make the best use of available domestic manpower. To this end, the country has been applying the labor migration quota in certain economic spheres since 2009. The construction of a platform for the Shah-Deniz II project, the operation of the existing oil and gas projects, the establishment of an Olympic Village for the first European Games due to be held in Azerbaijan in 2015, the renewal of road infrastructure, the construction of the White City residential settlement, the new international air and seaports, the petrochemical complex, and the Gizildash and Gazakh cement plants are among such major projects. At the same time, foreign companies active in the Republic of Azerbaijan are paying growing attention to the replacement of expatriate personnel with local staff, organizing the necessary training, and establishing partnerships with local partners and companies. For example, a number of projects have been carried out in conjunction with social stakeholders in the past three months. The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan Republic (SOCAR) has signed three cooperation agreements with BP, including the Protocol on Cooperation between SOCAR and BP in the area of the nationalization of personnel involved in the implementation of BP-operated projects, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation between SOCAR and BP on the training of the national workforce at the Gobustan Regional Training Center, and the MoU on cooperation between SOCAR and BP in the area of training at Baku Higher Oil School. In addition, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of the Population has signed a Memorandum on Cooperation with Akkord Industry Construction Investment Corporation and another Memorandum on Cooperation with Azersun Holding. The Ministry is expected to sign similar cooperation agreements with several other major companies in the near future.

What will be the 2014 highlights for the Ministry?

Our main objective at the current stage is to take advantage of the experience of developed countries in creating a modern social security system. To this end, the Ministry is expected to conduct major reforms. The planned institutional reforms and modernization of the legal framework will create more transparency and improve the quality and accessibility of the services provided to the population.



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