Declining levels of personnel training in Ukraine, labor migration, and occupational imbalances pose numerous challenges for Ukrainian businesses. Solving emerging problems requires significant financial, organizational and reputational efforts by companies, as well as a search for new forms of cooperation between business and government.
The process of labor migration away from Ukraine has significantly complicated the situation in Ukraine’s labor market. The decline in the level of vocational education, the decline in the prestige of working professions, burdened by the growing labor migration of the population, and the failed policy of the state in the field of vocational education have already led to a crisis in the labor market. The existing professional and personnel imbalance forces Ukrainian businesses to look for their own ways to solve the personnel problem.
From courses to academies
Means of solving the personnel problems of domestic businesses vary depending on the size of companies and can take on various forms, ranging from material support to vocational schools and universities, and ending with the creation of their own training courses, plants and even academies. Many businessmen see such influences as an investment in human capital, which, in their opinion, has a positive impact not only on business development, but is an element of corporate social responsibility.
“In all the countries where we are present, Solway Group invests in human capital. As our enterprises are city-forming, we bear a great deal of social responsibility. We are constantly training and investing in education. For example, in Guatemala we have opened a corporate university for 400 students, “said Dan Bronstein, chairman of the board and co-owner of Solway Investment Group (in Ukraine he owns Pobuzhsky Ferronickel Plant).
On the other hand, business opportunities are limited to the solution of mostly current tasks, while government agencies could be more actively involved in organizing long-term programs for career guidance for younger generations. This applies, for example, to the expansion and modernization of the educational program “Map of Professions”. Moreover, the current level of career guidance is confirmed by the data of the sociological survey “Youth of Ukraine 2019”, according to which 50 percent of young people do not work in their specialty, and almost one-third want to change their previously chosen profession.
Adjusted for migration
The increase in the number of people seeking to pursue a better life abroad is forcing Ukrainian companies to reconsider development programs, including staff training programs. Among them is the Pobuzhsky Ferronickel Plant, which is a city-forming enterprise for the village of Pobuzhske, where more than one-third of the local population is employed at the plant.
“We have faced a mass exodus of people from Pobuzhsky to the European Union, including in search of low-skilled jobs. One of our goals is to invest in team quality, increase productivity, and reduce social tensions, therefore the Group’s management has decided to share additional profits from rising nickel prices with our employees, “said Dan Bronstein.
Due to the outflow of personnel as a result of labor migration, the company had to quadruple its funding of the staff training program, to almost UAH 700,000. According to Oleg Bespalov, Director General of the Pobuzhsky Ferronickel Plant, the situation with the plant’s personnel has been stabilized: “Since May of last year, a large number of employees have appeared at the plant who want to go abroad to earn money. However, due to a 38% increase in wages in the second half of the year, as well as the active implementation of social programs in the village of Pobuzhske, the situation has stabilized. And already in December, we hired 11 more people than needed, “ summarized PFP’s general director.
As Oleg Bespalov explained, the current program for training and retraining personnel at the plant almost completely meets the need for personnel in production. Thus in 2018, as a result of the program, 141 people learned a new specialty, 57 underwent retraining, and another 231 employees improved their skills.
However, the program is not limited to training in workplace specializations. According to information provided by PFP, since 2004 (PFP joined the international investment group, Solway), 52 people have received higher education funded by the plant on a full-time basis and 109 people achieved this on a part-time basis. Today, the plant has funded three employees to study in universities by correspondence and one as a full-time student.
According to Oleg Bespalov, among those who received higher education at the expense of the plant, there are teachers and doctors who work in institutions Pobuzhsky. “I agree with investors that the training of specialists for the village is the same investment in the plant as those made directly in production. When an employee does not need to seek medical help in another locality or worry about his or her children receiving a quality education, this has a positive effect on his or her work.
The value of cooperation
Modernization of production and development of new equipment and technologies requires staff to constantly develop skills and competencies. This is known among professionals as “life-long learning”: an approach to education based on continuous acquisition of new knowledge and skills. To ensure the functioning of this process, companies must cooperate with educational and research organizations. Thus, PFP cooperates with a number of educational institutions, including the National Metallurgical Academy of Ukraine, Zaporizhia National Technical University, Mykolayiv University of Shipbuilding, Makarov, and others. Moreover, this list of partner educational institutions also includes a number of vocational schools and lyceums in different cities across Ukraine. Therefore, on the basis of Zaporizhzhya National Technical University, plans to establish training of specialists in those specialties which the plant needs. For its part, PFP provides internships for students and pupils. According to Oleg Bespalov, such cooperation is beneficial for all participants. On the one hand, it reduces the cost for the enterprise of organizing the learning process without reducing its quality. At the same time, educational institutions are given the opportunity to improve the educational process through internships directly in the workplace without reducing the quality of work performed.