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How employers can overcome challenges in the Ukrainian labor market

The full-scale war has significantly affected the experience of living in Ukraine and the labor market, and businesses have to adapt to new realities. Current and future challenges in various aspects of life and work of Ukrainians, business audience's assessment of the main socio-economic factors, migration, intentions of Ukrainians to return from abroad, and efforts of employers and the state to provide social support to citizens during the war - these and other important topics were discussed during the EBA discussion "Employers and the Future of Human Capital in Ukraine" held on July 1.

During the event, the results of the "Quality of Life Barometer" survey conducted by the EBA in partnership with Kernel and Gradus Research were presented. Among the main results of the survey, presented by Yevheniia Blyzniuk, sociologist, founder and director of Gradus Research, is a relatively high job satisfaction among the business audience (69% are satisfied with their jobs) against the backdrop of a deterioration in some other assessments and the overall experience of living in Ukraine. This decline is attributed to many factors, including the ongoing war, displacement, mobilization, and a widespread sense of uncertainty about the future. For more information on the results of the study, please follow the link.

Daryna Marchak, First Deputy Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine, spoke about the demographic challenges facing Ukraine, noting that our country faces three main negative demographic trends, including migration, low birth rates and low life expectancy. Due to the war, the population on the territory controlled by Ukraine has fallen to 31 million, with another 4.1 million people living in the temporarily occupied territories, and about 3.5 million in the EU and North America. The population decline may continue if no action is taken.

The most effective policy to counteract the population decline is to create comfortable living conditions in Ukraine, including affordable individual housing, high-quality public infrastructure, an inclusive labor market, a safe environment, and social cohesion. This will help to attract and retain talent, encourage fertility, and improve overall well-being. At the same time, Ukraine has a large number of citizens who are excluded from the labor market. At least 1 million people with disabilities, about 700,000 internally displaced persons, many elderly people, and veterans returning from the war have the potential to be employed. Therefore, investing in the available human capital within the country is the most effective way to solve the problem of labor shortages here and now. To do this, businesses need to review their recruitment and hiring policies, eliminate ageism, create barrier-free offices for people with disabilities, and implement training and retraining programs.

Natalia Teryakhina, HR Director at Kernel, emphasized the importance of employee support programs during the war, including health care, financial assistance, and support in difficult situations. Kernel's commitment to investing in Ukraine and launching new projects is an important factor in retaining employees who see the company's stability and growth potential. The company has also launched the Open Agro University program to train young professionals to create a future talent pool, works with schools and colleges to promote agribusiness and manufacturing professions among young people, and develops internal talent in key positions to minimize the risk of losing critical personnel. Ms. Nataliia said the company is focused on training and upskilling a wide range of individuals, including youth, women, and veterans, to fill vacancies and overcome labor shortages. Kernel advocates for an inclusive workplace, including for people with disabilities, to ensure equal opportunities and access to work.

Vladyslav Hrezev, founder and CEO of Lobby X, gave an overview of the current state of the Ukrainian labor market, particularly in the defense and non-governmental sectors. The war has led to a significant increase in the number of companies in the weapons and defense technology sector, which has created a high demand for engineers, designers and production specialists. The non-governmental sector has seen a huge increase in employment opportunities due to the influx of international organizations and funding. Mr. Grezev emphasized the need for smart government policies to balance the needs of the home front and the army in terms of human capital.

We are grateful to all the speakers and participants for the rich and informative discussion, as well as to our partners - Kernel and Gradus Research. Together, we are able to find answers to business issues and overcome the challenges of wartime.

European Business Association

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