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Building a career in Ukraine. What are the promises of the Pact for Youth-2020

19 November 2018

In 2016 the UN Population Fund in Ukraine became the signatory and the partner of the "Pact for Youth-2020". This initiative was founded in response to the challenges faced by Ukrainian youth in employment and career building.

In the last two years, this initiative managed to get promoted to a high level with the technical and financial support of the organization and partners. The results of the Pact planned by the authors were exceeded already after the first year since its implementation. It was expected that 100 partnerships between businesses and educational institutions will be created by 2020, and this has already happened in the first year. Such indicators strengthened the confidence that the Pact for Youth-2020 is a cutting-edge, relevant and necessary mechanism that will help the state to increase the capacity of young people and help them to find the development opportunities in Ukraine.

Establish communication between businesses and youth: done

Why are the stakeholders so much interested in the Pact? Apparently, first of all, because the authors have chosen an extremely important area. Young specialists, university graduates, generate a strong demand for the first job or internship place. Employers also look for talented young professionals. The expectations are somewhat overestimated on both sides. Therefore, there is a gap - potential specialists want more than a company can offer them, while the company has its own vision of a candidate's skills. The time runs rapidly, and the employment area is gaining in ever-increasing number of components that young people must comply with. Therefore, a few years ago, the concept of soft skills was not widely known, while today it is a necessary component of career development, and a lot of attention is drawn to these aspects in any CV.

Therefore, through the Pact for Youth-2020, a platform was created to facilitate the dialogue between the Government, education institutions, international organizations, businesses, and young people. Employers also receive their "benefits". In the survey conducted among the signatories to the Pact, the companies responded about their expectations from participating in the Pact. There are three most common "motivations":

- Companies want to attract more talented specialists;

- Companies strive to contribute to the future of Ukraine;

- For companies, the Pact is the platform (forums, conferences) for collaboration and sharing best practices with others.

"The Pact is a universal platform for communication and interaction between government, business and civil society to create new opportunities for youth employment. The issue of creating new jobs, internship programs, partnerships between business and education is extremely relevant for Ukraine. That is why, from the very beginning, the Ministry has supported and actively promoted this initiative with its partners. We see that this is highly demanded at both the national and regional levels", said Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Oleksandr Yarema.

 

Young specialists must find their place in Ukraine

The Youth Pact is a pan-European initiative implemented in the European to address the unemployment problem. In Ukraine, this initiative was launched by the Center for the Corporate Social Responsibility Development, headed by Maryna Saprykina. She attended the signing of the European Pact for Youth, which prompted the idea of organizing a similar activity in Ukraine.

"However, we do not have such a high level of unemployment among youth compared to the European countries. We face a different problem – the problem of youth leaving abroad", Maryna Saprykina says.

Therefore, thinking about the main goal of the Pact for Youth in Ukraine, the authors were guided by the following considerations: the Pact should be an initiative that would facilitate employment for young people so that specialists do not go to work in other countries, but can find a decent job and build a fulfilling career in Ukraine.

Work on the creation of the first partnerships began in 2016, and already in March the Pact was signed by the first stakeholders. According to Maryna Saprykina, the establishment of initial partnerships was rather a complex process, but later it exceeded all expectations.

"We set up the approximate indicators to be achieved to 2020. It was planned to create 100 partnerships during this period. But already in 2016 we exceeded this indicator, having created 106 partnerships", - Maryna Saprykina tells. According to her, the indicator related to creation of new jobs and internships was extremely successful too. It was planned, that 10,000 of such places will be organized within the Pact by 2020, but already in 2016 the employers provided 5,500 newly created vacancies.

The first partners to join the Pact were the Ministry of Youth and Sports of Ukraine as the governmental stakeholder, followed by educational institutions, and dozens of companies. The United Nations Population Fund has also joined this initiative in its very first year, undertaking to establish the regional connection. According to Maryna Saprykina, this allowed to significantly expand the geography of the Pact, besides, the youth and companies in the regions had even stronger need for dialogue than in large cities.

"The United Nations Population Fund in Ukraine has made a tremendous contribution to our cooperation. They assisted us to expand to the regions, where we were most needed. The Fund did a lot, providing us with our resources. They helped to attract companies from the regions, bring young people together. At the moment, all the significant events held within the framework of the Pact implementation are made possible through the great work of the UNFPA", Maryna Saprykina commented.

Currently, the geography of the Covenant extends to such regions as Kyiv, Odesa, Dnipro, Kharkiv, Lutsk, Zaporizhzhya, Kremenchuk, Lviv, Sumy, Vinnytsya, and others. You can join the initiative in any other region if you are interested. "If the local authorities are willing", Maryna Saprykina says, "it is enough for us to initiate a further dialogue."

From signing the Pact to WOW-effect forums

Since the signing of the Pact for Youth-2020 by the first participants and till today, there have been many changes that contributed to the development of the initiative. Many practical events have been held to facilitate meetings between employers and potential young professionals and build an effective dialogue. Over time, the work in this area expands involves new participants, and the lessons learned to help us to organize very high-level events. During them, young people can obtain relevant knowledge: how to build a career, develop entrepreneurship, find themselves in the profession.

The Forum "Business and Youth: WOW-Effect of Cooperation", which was first held in 2016, became such a practical platform for dialogue. Later this event was held annually in different regions of Ukraine. The forum brings together active youth, representatives of education institutions and businesses. Here career opportunities are presented, the development of the employment area is discussed. And, most importantly, there is a lot of activities for young people directly contributing to building useful skills and abilities. The company's representatives themselves conduct useful workshops on a variety of topics ranging from successful passing of an interview to the tips on developing soft skills.

Consequently, a need to diversify training seminars for HRs arose over time, and there is also the demand for such events. After all, such specialists should keep track of all current trends within their profession to efficiently manage the staff in their companies. In regions, this need is significantly more acute because of the lack of alternative training options.

2018 became very fruitful for the events within the framework of the implementation of the Pact for Youth-2020. Two forums "Business and Youth: WOW-Effect of Cooperation" were held in Mariupol and Kherson. They attracted a lot more registered visitors than last year.

“This project helps and teaches how to take a first step in the career upon graduating from an educational facility. So far, more than 22,000 young people benefited from it: they found their first job or internship. We in UNFPA Ukraine also use this initiative to foster healthy lifestyle at the workplace. "Pact-2020" is one of the brightest and the most practical initiatives which I saw while working in Ukraine", Caspar Peek, UN Population Fund, said. 

Skills of the future – what are they?

In the summer of 2018, the "Camp of the Future Skills" was held in Kremenchuk, where skills training was conducted for a group of 30 adolescents aged 14-17. Within the project, the teenagers developed such skills and abilities as critical thinking, creativity, communication, co-operation, emotional intelligence, financial literacy, and learned the values of equality, humanity, healthy lifestyle and personal development. In the camp, the youths were taught to work in a team, and 6 unique projects were created as the result of this. This first acquaintance with project management will allow these teenagers to be prepared for such tasks at their place of internship or first job in the future.

"2018 year was very busy for us", Maryna Saprykina says. "In addition to the events that were held, we launched a new form of work, namely, mentoring. Now companies will be able to provide mentors, who will take care of certain young specialists and teach them directly to work in a particular company".

Maryna also mentioned "skills labs" among the achievements of 2018, which are launched in Lviv and will work during the autumn. These are two laboratories: "Skills Labs: A Successful Career" and "Skills Labs: Your Own Business". The project will gather around 30 participants in each group. The first group will learn the skills necessary for a successful career, and the second will learn about creating startups, business know-how, and more.

UNFPA in Ukriane is the key partner for all of the above activities. It is extremely important for the organization to support this initiative through practical activities. In addition to the immediate organization of events, the Fund has technically and financially contributed to publishing several educational guides that will be useful to those who are looking for work or begin to build their own careers. The "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Career" and "Practical Guide for the Employer" manuals are also published. There is very little literature in Ukraine that would contain valuable advice and practical guidance on career issues. These publications are distributed free of charge in the framework of the implementation of the Pact for Youth.

Pact for Youth is the initiative which should be nationwide

Until recently, in addition to the State Employment Center, there was practically no specialized institution or facility in Ukraine, the work of which would be aimed specifically at solving career issues of young specialists and graduates of higher educational institutions.

Nowadays, the efficient dialogue, or rather cooperation, between the authorities, the education sector, business, and the youth is supported through the Pact for Youth-2020 initiative. Now it's something bigger than was originally planned. The success of this initiative in our country has exceeded all expectations. The European seminars on employment present Ukraine as an example of the extremely successful implementation of the Pact for Youth.

This year, it is planned to adopt the "National Action Plan for Youth Employment" - a document that was developed by the authors of the Pact for Youth-2020 together with partners. The young people, for whom this Action Plan was originally written, were engaged in its implementation. For this purpose, a video contest was announced, where every young person could express their own ideas about employment in Ukraine.

Adoption of the "National Action Plan for Youth Employment" will promote the initiative to the national level. This will increase the attention of new potential partners to it. At this stage, new governmental partners, such as the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Social Policy, are involved. Obviously, this will also increase the number of participants from the education sector and businesses.

“In my opinion, from the very start of its implementation the Pact managed to find proper forms of interaction, and build a meaningful dialogue with the signatories. Since the very beginning we together determined topics and issues which are of interest for young people and business representatives, and tried to find answers together. Moreover, we managed to build the trust between the process participants and young people. Moreover, we managed to engage colleagues from different authorities, who have the leverages to improve the situation with the youth employment in Ukraine", says Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports Oleksandr Yarema. 

For signatories to the Pact, this is not only a matter of prestige and a part of the image of companies with corporate social responsibility. For them, it is an opportunity to find talented, encouraged, motivated employees, and, therefore, to invest high quality resources in the development of their own business.

“We are thinking about the future of the youth in Ukraine. And currently the key issue is how to invest in the youth, so that it will stay and develop in their own country? How to make it possible? By creating workplaces and providing the necessary knowledge, skills and opportunities for young people. All this is made possible through the Pact for Youth and other initiatives which we implement in Ukraine together with our partners – for example, Skills Labs, Skills Camps and others”, summarizes Caspar Peek, UNFPA Representative in Ukraine.