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The FOCUS-MEDIA Foundation for Social Development and Healthcare and the Citi Foundation have summed up the results of the joint all-Russian project “Expanding Access to Employment for Vulnerable Youth in Russia”. Over the past 5 years, the program has covered more than 14,000 young Russians from 6 regions. The students learned how to write a CV, communicate with an employer, and have mastered useful “soft skills” – from time management to the art of self-presentation.

According to Rosstat, the highest unemployment rate in Russia in 2019 was observed among graduates of secondary vocational education programs: 15.4% of graduates of training programs for middle-level specialists and 15.5% of graduates of training programs for skilled workers and office employees were unemployed. At the same time, every year the secondary vocational education system graduates from 750 thousand to 1.2 million people.

Lack of experience, low wages, a shortage of jobs, a low level or lack of “soft skills” among graduates are factors that prevent children from finding work. The status of “unemployed” is a serious psychological blow for everyone.

Vladimir Blinov (Doctor of Pedagogy, Professor, Director of the Research Center for Professional Education and Qualifications Systems at the Federal Institute for the Development of Education, RANEPA) proposes solutions for reducing unemployment rate among college graduates: “The maps of educational organizations and potential places of employment do not coincide. The employment services should work out this issue at the regional level. The simplest and the wrong way is to lay down all the responsibility on the educational organization. Instead, we should run the interaction of the executive authorities, educational bodies and the employers. If there is such a consortium, the problems are solved. We need an influx of young personnel – generations of a different age group, this has a positive effect on the development of labor collectives. We need to come to a guaranteed employment, and constructive systems for supporting professional choices.”

Oksana Barkalova (Deputy Director of the FOCUS-MEDIA Foundation) describes the project designed for the college students: “The online-platform My Career is aimed at developing skills and increasing the motivation of students for employment. The target groups of the project are college students of colleges, children from orphanages, schoolchildren, young mothers and teachers. We focus especially on the youth in difficult life situations who lack communication skills and motivation to look for work. We have operated this project since 2015 and today it covers 6 regions: Volgograd, Nizhny Novgorod, Moscow, Leningrad regions, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Sverdlovsk region. In 2020, the Moscow Region Zhukovsky and Rostov-on-Don joined the program. Ryazan will participate in 2021. From 2015 to 2020, more than 14,000 young people registered at the My Career platform, including more than 5,500 people completed all courses and created a high-quality CV, and 2,550 people received experience in temporary and permanent employment. 990 college teachers were trained to work with the platform.”

Anna Samokhvalova (Director of Public Relations at Citi in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan) notes: “The main thing is to create conditions for an equal and successful start in life for vulnerable youth by developing social skills, increasing motivation and expanding employment opportunities. Employing young people with low start-up capital is one of the main areas of Citi’s social investments around the world, including Russia.”

Irina Yezhova (President of the Nizhny Novgorod Regional Public Organization Socio-psychological Center “Doverie”) shared the results of the project in the region: “All the districts of Nizhny Novgorod region participate in the program, new groups gather here every year. For 5 years, about 5,000 children have participated in the project. The success of the project is due to the fact that it is in demand among students of secondary vocational education. Our course was also supported at the regional level, we constantly attract new institutions and teachers. The work is beneficial for teachers, psychologists, since initially the platform was created not as a load, but as something that would help them better organize the teaching process. In the coming years, we plan to train teachers, increase the project’s awareness and develop a mentoring system.”

Natalya Morozova (Head of the inclusive education support department of the Center for the Development of Professional Education of the Academy of Social Management) notes that young people with disabilities need additional education programs. Since 2016, a departmental project “Professional education without borders” has been implemented in colleges, technical schools and universities of Moscow region. It is designed to make inclusive education attractive: to create a barrier-free environment, provide career guidance, and support employment. Today in the project there are 181 professions.

Ms. Morozova argues: “We need to create a barrier-free environment and special conditions: develop adapted programs, online courses. We have been working on this for the fifth year and are creating a bank of regional adapted programs. It is these tasks that the My Career project solves: training on a course for youth with disabilities helps adolescents cope with difficulties in employment and learn important aspects of overcoming stereotypes, specific interview questions related to disability, labor legislation and special working conditions.”