The future of employment in Ukraine amid 5 million lost jobs

Odessa, 28 June 2022. (credit: Tatyana Bezhenar)

Nearly five millions jobs have been lost in Ukraine because of the full-scale war, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released in May If it escalates, a total of seven million roles could be suppressed. Thousands fleeing war zones have moved to Odesa, in the southwest. They are looking for jobs and are reskilling, in the hope to find work in Ukraine’s overwhelmed labour market.

While war’s impact on Ukraine is still to be precisely recorded, everything definitely looks different to before 24 February. Alongside the massive exodus, many companies closed and others cut jobs or salaries.

According to the State Employment Centre, unemployment has almost doubled and nowadays, an average of 11 people apply for one job in Ukraine, five more than in the previous year. Unemployment is the worst in the southern occupied territory of Kherson, with an average of 86 people applying for one job.

According to the ILO, war could impact employment in other countries, including Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia. What’s more, the longer the war lasts, the longer Ukrainian refugees will have to stay abroad. This will put pressure on the employment markets and social protection systems of those countries, and increase their unemployment rates.

In Odesa, ‘find a job and start earning as soon as possible’

According to data from the Department of Social Policy of the Odesa Military Administration, over 85,000 residents from heavily war-torn Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts have moved to the Odesa region. One of the solutions for the State Employment Centre’s unsuccessful job hunters, is acquiring new skills. “Around 300 people from across Ukraine study at our centre today. (…) These people are receiving a new professional qualification that will allow them to find a job and start earning as soon as possible”, says Roman Sarzhynskyi, the director of the Odesa Centre for Vocational and Technical Education.

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Odessa, 28 June 2022. (credit: Tatyana Bezhenar)

Anzhela Derevianko is an internally displaced person (IDP) hailing from Mariupol, in southeast Ukraine. She worked in a warehouse at the Illich Steel and Iron Works - one of the largest enterprises of the country - until the plant was damaged by military operations. “Odesa doesn't have any enterprises in the metallurgical field unfortunately, so I will have to receive training for a new qualification. This will take four months and give me a new specialisation. But until then, we have to live on the state-provided IDP payments”. If she succeeds in finding a job, Derevianko plans to stay “I will most likely build my life here as our home in Mariupol was fully destroyed by a missile”.

Odessa, 28 June 2022. (credit: Tatyana Bezhenar)

Valentyna Tymoshenko, worked in Vuhledar, a mining town in Donetsk as a laboratory assistant. Today, her town no longer has  electricity, gas, or water. She found a job on her visit to the Odessa job centre. “I was lucky to find a job in my field very early. This money will now at least be enough to rent a flat. While we don’t have an income, we live on the IDP payments”, says Tymoshenko. Her husband is still looking for work.

Medical and utility work available

War has also created new needs and therefore, new jobs. “The largest number of vacancies is in the medical field: doctors, junior nurses. A lot of job vacancies are available in utility companies that are vital for the life of the city. This is a chance for people who were forced to leave their homes to settle in Odesa, and it also allows us to compensate jobs left by workers who fled the city”, notes the director of the Odesa City Employment Center, Tetiana Kanava.

The most popular fields for job seekers since the start of the war are: agriculture (39 per cent), processing industry (12 per cent), trade (12 per cent), and government and defence (11 per cent). Ukraine’s employment centres predict that manual jobs will be the most sought-after when the war ends and  reconstruction becomes the country’s main priority.