Kyiv, February 24, 2016. “We calculated that since the first day we have helped employ over 5000 people,” said Maryna Lebid, coordinator of the volunteer team of Employment Centre for Free People NGO at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. She said the initiative on employing the Maidan protesters was founded two years ago, evolving into Employment Centre for Free People (ECFP) organization later. As of today, the organization helps internally displaced persons (IDPs) and ATO veterans to find employment and adapt socially. Lebid said that, according to information provided by the Ministry of Social Policy, as of February 2015, there are 1.7 million IDPs registered in Ukraine. Moreover, the Ministry of Defense informed that, as of November last year, 200 thousand previously drafted people are coming back and expecting proper attitude and support of the society. ECFP can be treated as a response of the society to present day challenges. “ECFP is an organization starting from ten concerned recruiters who wanted to contribute professionally into the Maidan self-organizing. At present ECFP consists of 150 volunteers all around Ukraine who mainly work in seven cities: Kyiv, Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Kramatorsk, Lviv and Lutsk,” informed Lebid. The team includes career consultants, trainers, hotline operators, programmers and other specialists of over ten industries, added the activist.
ECFP helps to find both permanent and temporary employment, provides services of career consulting and career guidance, prepares for interviews with employers and helps people compose a professional curriculum vitae, explained Olha Semenova, coordinator of ECFP consulting and employment sector. “Over 15 thousand IDPs sought over help during two years of our work. Each one receive assistance from our volunteers who refined queries, helped search for vacancies and coordinate their participation in training programs, workshops and seminars,” said Semenova. “80 percent of IDPs were consulted by a career specialist and got occupational guidance”. Moreover, ECFP conducted 50 visits to the IDPs residence communities and organized ten job fairs for people living there.
Vira Lebedeva, coordinator of the education and development program, coordinator of the project Business-incubator for IDPs, said that the differences between big city and regional labor markets, inability of self-presentation and composing a CV as well as broken social links are the main hindrances in employing IDPs. The last reason was what slowed the process of IDPs adaptation the most, said the coordinator. They launched a study and development program, which teaches people the fundamentals of a new profession within a short period of time (40-50 study hours). “In 18 months of this project we managed to train over 5 thousand IDPs and ATO veterans […]. We engaged about 200 professional business trainers all over Ukraine, who develop programs independently and conduct training. We take special pride in our 300 volunteers who are helping us organize these courses. 70 percent of our graduates managed to find a job on their own within 1-2 months,” said Lebedeva. Moreover, our students were coming back with requests on finding certain contacts, which evolved into another project, Social Business Incubator, a comprehensive study and support program from successful businessmen and specialized expert consulting, explained Lebedeva.
In December 2014 it became evident that ATO veterans needed the same help, said Oksana Voropai, coordinator of ECFP project for ATO veterans Decent Job for a Soldier. Simple employment assistance is not enough here. “Veterans who come back from war are not ready to start working at once. They need time to adapt, they want to change their profession due to soul searching, they can’t return to their previous work due to injury or disability, and understanding of society is one of their fundamental values, they need to be among their fellows,” explained the coordinator. She spoke of difficulties and peculiarities of the process of social adaptation of ATO veterans. ECFP volunteers are working with veterans, their families and employees. ATO veterans can access all the services volunteers provide to IDPs, said Voropai. Moreover, there is a Cup of Coffee with a Psychologist project, where soldiers can talk to specialists in friendly atmosphere. “Every month 10-15 veterans consult a psychologist at our center,” added the project coordinator.
Two years ago the organization emerged as an initiative of the Maidan activists who managed to overcome the crisis on their own, said Stanislav Liachynskyi, director of the program initiative Civic Initiatives of New Ukraine of the International Renaissance Foundation. “A crisis in not just a problem, it is a possibility. It creates such possibilities for people affected the most by the armed conflict still continuing in the east of Ukraine,” he said.