Building jobs for Ukraine: How one recruitment company supported those fleeing war

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Alain Dehaze, Chief Executive Officer, The Adecco Group

  • Adecco Group had more than 1,700 associates and colleagues working in Ukraine when Russian forces invaded in February.
  • The company quickly set up the Jobs for Ukraine platform, to support thousands needing to start new lives.
  • The initiative’s launch continues Adecco’s work with those fleeing conflict zones and has already placed hundreds into jobs.

On 24 February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, we at the Adecco Group had more than 1,700 associates and colleagues working in the region. As a people business, our crisis teams went into action to help our colleagues and associates affected by the war. We were heartbroken for them.

Subsequent events have deepened our sense of outrage and sadness; as Russia continues its military action in Ukraine, millions have become refugees — families separated, innocent civilians uprooted, the future marked by peril and uncertainty.

How can a global human resources and staffing company help out? When our team banded together, we came up with the Jobs for Ukraine platform. When people have work and they are stable financially, socially and emotionally, they can thrive.

And that’s where we can have our biggest impact. I am proud to be part of this effort through our Jobs for Ukraine platform. This is our journey to building the platform and helping thousands of people start new lives.

Jobs for Ukraine: to help those impacted by the war

War is a humanitarian crisis on myriad levels. One major consideration for refugees and those whose lives have been upended is: How do you make a living, and perhaps support a family when circumstances beyond your control force you to leave your job behind? This is where we saw an opportunity to do our part.

While we don’t have direct operations in Russia or Ukraine, we do have more than 1,700 Ukrainian and Russian colleagues and associates working with Adecco Group. We immediately vowed to do everything in our power to support all colleagues, associates and customers impacted by the crisis, whatever their nationality.

Within days, we created Jobs for Ukraine. This platform is for any company looking to offer opportunities for displaced workers. We tasked an Adecco expert team of Ukrainian and English speakers with supporting candidates and connecting them with businesses.

Jobs for Ukraine was created as a solidarity initiative, rather than a typical commercial job board. Our goal was to help people and companies contact one another quickly, not to engage in a full recruitment process. The service has no cost for companies, and Adecco has /will never charge candidates for finding jobs —Having set up the platform, we reached out to interested companies to join the initiative.

More than just a help-wanted board, Jobs for Ukraine offers training modules, curriculum building, counseling and reskilling. We’re advising candidates on their CVs, and we’re pushing businesses to provide training and reskilling for workers who, while experienced and competent, may need assistance performing their job in a new environment.

On the institutional front, we’ve activated the World Employment Confederation to support the industry federations in countries in the region and have reached out to the directors of the global United Nations agencies most immediately affected to pledge our support.

Because the Adecco Group has a presence in most the countries west of Ukraine, we are exploring ways we can aid humanitarian organizations as they respond to the rapidly evolving situation on that nation’s borders.

Making the future work for everyone

The “why” of Jobs for Ukraine comes down to something we’re fond of saying at the Adecco Group: We believe in making the future work for everyone. That includes those whose ability to earn has been impacted by war.

For more than a decade, we’ve worked to enable people displaced by conflict to re-enter the world of work in their host countries. Finding work and meaningful employment is critical to refugees who need to regain financial stability and begin new lives.

Through our prior experience in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, we’ve learned lessons and created an infrastructure that helps us help Ukrainians and Russians today. Our goal is to do our part to create an environment in which workers can get started on a healthy, productive, fulfilling future.

The response to Jobs for Ukraine has been overwhelming and gratifying. More than 1,330 companies from around the world have signed up. In addition, applications have been made for jobs on the platform by more than 4,000 people who fled Ukraine and are starting new lives outside the country.

‘Overwhelming’ response to Ukraine jobs plea

Our matching engine has already shared 13,140 CVs with companies offering positions. Nearly 700 refugees, and counting, have found new jobs thanks to our jobs platform. We expect all these figures to rise significantly in the coming weeks and months, though unforeseeable events in the war will surely affect matters.

How is the World Economic Forum supporting refugees?

Since 24 February 2022, over 6 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed borders into neighbouring countries. The war is widely recognised as the worst conflict in Europe since WWII and adds to the estimated 31 million people worldwide who have been displaced across borders as a result of persecution, conflict, violence and human rights violations (UNHCR, 2021). Of this, approximately 10 million are of working age, highlighting the centrality of employment and employability to successful integration.

The crisis in Ukraine is unique in terms of the speed and scale at which it has unfolded. However, it is also unprecedented in the legal and institutional response to the crisis. This has brought into sharp focus what is possible for refugee employment and employability with the right enabling environment.

The Refugee Employment and Employability Initiative builds on the momentum associated with supporting refugees from Ukraine to create a basis for system-wide global support from employers for refugees that extends across conflict contexts.

The Initiative has three objectives:

  • to increase employment opportunities for refugees;
  • to expand the range of initiatives that support their employability;
  • to build capability for rapid action and resilience for future refugee crises.

In its first phase, the Initiative is working with the Forum’s Community of Chief Human Resource Officers to understand what member organizations are doing with respect to the employment and employability of refugees. These findings will be used to shape the initiative and identify opportunities for further collaboration in the second phase of the initiative.

Thus far, more than 85% of applicants are women. Nearly 15% of them have administrative and customer service skills, while nearly 10% have skills in sales and trading. A large majority of hiring companies are based in Europe, but businesses all over the globe are participating.

Against a backdrop of millions of displaced civilians, it’s difficult to feel like you’re making a difference. It’s a drop in the ocean in the grand scale of things.

But in addition to helping workers secure their future, we at the Adecco Group hope and believe that Jobs for Ukraine will serve as a model for other partnerships aimed at making the future work for everyone.

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