Photo: Alexs Kuper / UNDP in Ukraine

The “Live and Work in Ukraine” forums held on 16 October in Severodonetsk and on 23 October in Mariupol aimed to help young people become the kind of specialists that are in high demand, meeting demand from employers, and improving the public image of vocational professions.

The region has never before witnessed an event that brought school students together with representatives of educational institutions and micro-, small- and medium-sized companies on one platform. The organizers of the forums say this method for communicating and cooperating, held as part of the United Nations Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme, will improve conditions on the regional labour market. The forums were financially supported by the European Union and the governments Japan and Poland, and held in collaboration with Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast State Administrations and Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast Employment Centres.

The forums not only provided school students with information about existing vacancies but also allowed them to immerse themselves in adult life. They could feel, see, and even taste a profession. Over the course of several hours, the school students were able to switch professions several times – assuming the roles of steelworkers, cooks, doctors, police officers and engineers. The young people also talked to employers: representatives of utility companies, law enforcement agencies, garment factories, metallurgical and agricultural companies, and even representatives of a sea port.

Youth is the potential for development of Luhansk Oblast

The forum in Severodonetsk brought together over 1,000 young people from across Luhansk Oblast, representatives of about 50 educational institutions of the region and a similar number of employers. Mariia and Dmytro Kosilkyny, the creators of the “Be Easy” children’s clothing brand, were among the employers. Since establishing their family business five years ago, the entrepreneurs have proved that good-quality and trendy clothing can be produced in a small town like Rubizhne. While they have created 12 jobs, light industry, and garment manufacturing in particular, is short of labour both in the oblast and across the country.

Employers will also have to compete for each school and university student to keep them working in Luhansk Oblast. “Otherwise, the oblast may lose potential for its future development,” said Yuriy Stetsyuk, the head of the region’s Education Department. The forum provides educational institutions with the opportunity to find future students, employers with the opportunity to find workers, while allowing young people to find their professional calling.

Oleksandr Rudenko attended the forum with his granddaughter Kseniya. He said that was pleasantly surprised at the solid career guidance provided. All his life he has worked, as they say, with his hands – either as a plumber or as an electrician. He assured people that a highly qualified specialist could make good money and be useful to their community.

“The mismatch between demand and supply is the main problem of the Ukrainian labour market,” said Director of Luhansk Oblast Employment Centre Serhiy Bolotsky. “As early as last spring, the centre, together with a team from the UN Peacebuilding and Recovery Programme, launched a study into the labour market of Luhansk Oblast. After analysing requests from employers and technical vocational schools, we presented a report and made a bold decision to hold a large-scale forum like this to provide carrier guidance. This is a new format, but I’m sure it will be a success.”

The east and west are together

The forum in Mariupol was attended by 23 employers and a similar number of representatives of the oblast’s educational institutions. The main selection criteria were decent working conditions and a wage above UAH 10,000. “The forum mainly aimed to guide young people towards those professions that, if chosen, ensure employment and high wages,” said Director of Donetsk Oblast Employment Centre Valentyna Rybalko. “These professions are mechanical engineers, steelworkers, builders and service workers. Today, the employers presented vacancies paying from UAH 10,000 to UAH 35,000.”

Apart from representatives of Mariupol’s higher educational institutions and technical vocation schools, the forum was also attended by representatives of educational institutions from across the oblast – Kramatorsk, Lyman, and Volnovakha and Velyka Novosilka districts. The forum also brought together over 4,000 school students from across the region, including those who live close to the contact line. Deputy Head of the Employment Policy Department of the State Employment Centre Valentyna Melnyk believes that vocational professions not only allow one to work in the profession one studied but also to set up one’s own business. After all, the ability to work with your own hands is a good start for newly fledged entrepreneurs.

Not only city institutions and large businesses but also sole proprietors invited people to join their teams of employees. Olha Symonova from Mariupol has opened a yarn shop and is looking for a manager. “We can tell school students about the opportunities in the services sector, and what they can do.”

This year the forum had the slogan “Donetsk Oblast: The East and West Are Together.” That is why the main feature of the event was a video conference with Lviv, where a similar career forum was being held. The video conference enabled the participants in both forums to talk to one another, share their impressions and experience, and to discuss possible cooperation.

Head of UNDP Economic Recovery and Restoration of Critical Infrastructure component Volodymyr Lyaschenko stressed the importance of effective cooperation between educational institutions and employers in improving the region’s labour market. “School students need to see the potential of technical vocational and higher educational institutions in Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, while entrepreneurs need to show demand for professions and offer decent wages and working conditions,” Volodymyr Lyaschenko said. “A combination of these elements will greatly promote economic growth in the region.”

The UN Recovery and Peacebuilding Programme is being implemented by four United Nations agencies: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The Programme is supported by eleven international partners: the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the governments of Canada, Denmark, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Great Britain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Media inquiries: Yuliia Samus, UNDP Communications Specialist,, +38 097 139 14 75

Regional Forums for Young People in eastern Ukraine, October 2019
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