Ukraine’s transition to a market economy faces serious political, economic, and security challenges. Before 2022, Ukraine was still struggling to recover from the sharp economic downturn in 2014/15 and the internal displacement of 2.3 Mio persons due to the war in the eastern regions (causing a 16% contraction of GDP) and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019. Key labour market challenges included low employment rates with a pronounced gender gap, high labour emigration, elevated youth unemployment and inactivity, and a notable skills mismatch.
The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine has resulted in a devastating humanitarian crisis, causing large losses of life, massive destruction of infrastructure, and immense human suffering. Since the outbreak of the war, more than 6.7 million Ukrainian refugees were recorded across Europe, while an additional 6.2 million people had to relocate within the country. Preliminary assessments say that national income will drastically drop this year by between 35 and 45 per cent. According to ILO estimates 30 per cent of all jobs – approximately 4.8 million – have been lost since the outbreak of the war. As of September 23rd 2022, 15 TVET institutions have been completely destroyed, 112 have been damaged and TVET is carried out either exclusively as distance learning or in blended learning modality. As the conflict drags on, more Ukrainians could lose their jobs and millions could be pushed into poverty, which could offset the country’s development efforts.
In the current circumstances, it is imperative to guarantee learning continuity for young people, to grant their right to education and equip them with skills to secure their future livelihood. In addition, regular education schedules – even online – contribute to the psycho-social stability of young people. The Ukrainian TVET system is currently developing a quality e-Learning provision to continue offering vocational training for young people, as well as to support the retraining of adult population. To compensate at least partially the loss of practical classes, the e-learning offer needs to seek an active involvement of learners, as well as the application of immersive technologies wherever possible.
Not only young people are in need of education and training. There is also an increasing demand for workers in the construction and reconstruction sector, including in environmentally sustainable construction. This includes rapid skills training and recognition of prior learning. Displaced people and entrepreneurs are in need to technical re-training and up-skilling, as well as learning opportunities for entrepreneurship development, including e-commerce.
Host countries for refugees need to adopt adequate measures to integrate displaced people in their societies, education systems and labour markets, regardless of how long refugees prefer to stay. The EU ‘Temporary Protection’ provides opportunities for refugees to proceed with quick registration and access vital support in all areas of life. Refugees need their educational credentials and professional qualifications recognized to facilitate their access to employment opportunities in host countries. Retrieving (electronic) certificates and establishing skills profiles offer the possibility to finding adequate employment and continuing learning at the right level.