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Realizing that young people without work are highly vulnerable to drug abuse and crime …


Summary

In October, 1999 the NGO "Hope", which specializes in providing social-psychological support to the residents of Blagoveshensk, began implementing a USAID/ISAR-RFE funded project “Perseverance: the Adaptation of Youth to the Work World”. During the project, 13 student youth groups were trained in job search and job retention skills. Shortly following the training, 46 of the 135 training participants found suitable employment. Based on Hope’s success, both educational institutions and local and federal government agencies began actively and formally collaborating with Hope and each other to expand job opportunities and training for Blagoveshensk’s youth.

Project Description

The City of Blagoveshensk is home to 6 universities, 15 technical institutions, and 8 vocational institutions. The city is also witnessing a shrinking and highly competitive labor market, with youth unemployment at 58%. Many young graduates, lacking practical work experience, self-confidence, and self-presentation skills, find it impossible to find employment in their fields. As a result, they are susceptible to many of the factors that exacerbate the problems of youth drug addiction and crime - boredom, low self-esteem, and depression. Recognizing this problem, the psychologists at the NGO, Hope, initiated the USAID/ISAR-RFE funded project, “Perseverance the Adaptation of Youth to the Work World.” The primary objectives of the project were to provide 12 groups of Blagoveshensk students with self-presentation, telephone interview, and resume writing resumes skills. Project leaders also hoped to boost the self-confidence of the young participants and thereby enable them to feel more self-confident and more comfortable in interviews with prospective employers.

Project leaders announced the project during student assemblies at various educational institutions in Blagoveshensk. The demand for the course was so great that instead of working with 12 groups of ten students each as originally planned, trainers worked with thirteen. The classes, which were conducted by Hope’s professional trainers, reflected two basic themes: personal growth and job search. In both group and individual training sessions, trainers assisted students to first determine their life’s goals and objectives and then to develop their professional images and job-search strategies. Students also received training on how to present themselves professionally to prospective employers. At the end of the training, each student was given three brochures - “How to Find Your First Job,” “Psychological Preparation for Interviews with Employers,” and “Looking for Work on the Telephone” – and left with a completed curriculum vita, resume, and cover letter.

Shortly following the courses, 47 of the 135 participants almost found suitable employment. Based on Hope’s success, the Amur State University also established a new “job search/placement” service for its students. Furthermore, at the request of the University’s administration, the federal government Department of Employment Services and the City of Blagoveshensk’s Department of Youth and Children’s Affairs signed an agreement to cooperate in the resolution of youth unemployment problems.

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