Svitlana Maiboroda: “The labor market is already changing: a reset awaits for many people”

No sooner had the labor market recovered from the coronavirus crisis than it moved into the next, but more uncertain and more dangerous crisis because of the war. What is going on today in Ukraine and what are the prospects for candidates and employers during the year – tells Svitlana Maiboroda, the Group Team Leader at Smart Solutions.

Svitlana Maiboroda

  • Svitlana, how does the labor market feel when the pandemic was replaced by war?

Along with the loss of work, many people lost their housing or access to it, were forced to urgently move to safer regions or countries. Employers were forced to make difficult decisions in relation to reduction of personnel, reduction of the pay rate at least for the duration of the war, or send staff on an unpaid leave. By the beginning of the war, the vacancies, if they were posted on work websites, were in a pause mode. Most of them were eventually postponed until better times or cancelled. There was also a lull from the applicants.

  • Now there are regions with destroyed infrastructure, or just liberated from occupation, and those far from the front lines, but overcrowded with refugees. What perspectives have appeared in this regard?

If we look at the labor market by regions, for the Kyiv region, Kharkiv, Chernyhiv, Akhtyrka, and Mariupol, it is mostly a field of work for volunteers and special organizations. In the rest of Ukraine, businesses are partially and gradually returning to their activities, to the extent possible. The largest concentration of labor forces still remains in the Western Ukraine. But without creation of additional workplaces the employment of the internally displaced population is not possible, because even in peacetime this region was manpower-surplus.

  • What are the peculiarities of a wartime job search?

Due to the circumstances, the labor market has once again become an employer’s market. For those who can afford to hire staff, there is an opportunity to attract the best personnel. For those who have lost their jobs, the issue of finding one is acute, because most do not always have a financial “cash cushion” longer than 2-3 months. For those whose job search is critical, they are willing to respond to jobs below their level of experience, to uncharacteristic jobs. There is a tendency to look for work closer to the place of your residence, which allows you to move around less and to hide in a hiding place, if the situation requires.

  • What sectors of the market have proven to be the most resilient to the effects of the war?

I would like to single out the IT sphere, although it was negatively affected, but due to the fact that IT business is usually internationally oriented, most companies managed to stay afloat and continue business development even with the expansion of staff and hiring new employees. In addition, the remote format of work is popular in this area, which makes it possible to involve the specialists who remained in Ukraine and cannot go abroad for international projects without personal attendance. As we know, the demand for Ukrainian IT specialists abroad has always been high. For most European countries, there is a deficit of qualified IT-specialists.

  • Which vacancies are “on pause” and which are being restarted?

The most affected areas are services (HoReCa, beauty salons, sports clubs, etc.). There are practically no vacancies for managers. The sphere, which is recovering the quickest, is retail (retail trade). Now it is the sphere where more vacancies appear. There are also offers in logistics, foreign trade, pharmaceuticals, medicine, agriculture, and IT. Currently, the most demanded are shop assistants, cashiers, drivers, pharmacy staff, medical staff, movers, packers. There is already a demand for construction workers.

  • One day the war will be over. How will the labor market change?

There are already prerequisites for possible changes both in Ukraine and in the world, particularly in Europe. First of all, the problems of security and defense. Having an aggressive neighbor, it is necessary to ensure safe conditions for the integrity of our country, which will contribute to its development and attract investors. Secondly, the energy development, including alternative energy, energy independence, so it is obvious that corresponding specialists will be required. Thirdly, the reformation of the country’s economy, shifting production facilities closer to the market, from Eastern Ukraine to the West, closer cooperation, warehouse and logistics coverage with the countries of Europe, Poland foremost. There are already requests from Ukrainian manufacturing and agricultural companies to analyze the labor market, for example in Poland – to open their offices and logistics centers there.

As to the first condition, the world is convinced of the professionalism of the Ukrainian army, and now it is even more universal, when all kinds of troops get real combat experience with the most various weapons. Obviously, such experience will be in demand in the future at the international level as well. It seems that Ukraine, having such a geographical position, will assume the role of Zaporozhian Sich in relation to Europe. The end of war does not mean stopping the development of Ukraine’s military industry. Moreover, we are also talking about military developers, designers, cyber specialists, telecommunications engineers etc. Medicine and psychology will develop on this background. Ukrainian engineers are capable of developing the latest equipment and prosthetics.

  • Ukraine has suffered widespread destruction of infrastructure, industrial enterprises, and businesses. And we need to rebuild it. How will the labor market react to this demand?

Of course, the priority is to rebuild the country, cities and towns. Therefore, there will be a demand for builders, designers, architects, engineers to build roads and bridges, other infrastructure, therefore, there will be a demand for construction materials. In terms of rehabilitation, we understand that it will not be a duplication of the type of housing that was before. Priorities will change, and strengthening of buildings will be more important than panoramic views.

  • And how will those who will be working or looking for work and those who will be creating workplaces change?

New times will require new knowledge, new approaches in education. There is a hope that the profession of a teacher, tutor will be high-demand and prestigious. Now, for those who are in search, it is worth to properly assess the situation, to identify their string points. If necessary – to acquire the necessary skills by means of training, investing in yourself, to be in demand in the labor market. It is a good time for entrepreneurs to make a name of themselves, their product or service, including in the global market. Now all the attention of the world is geared to Ukraine, and it is possible to watch the sequence of events in real time from any corner of the world. Support is felt everywhere – from avatars in the profiles of candidates in Linkedin from different countries and Ukrainian flags on all the buildings of Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, etc. to peaceful gatherings around the world against the war in Ukraine, which indicates that the brand of Ukraine is recognized worldwide and will be in demand.

  • How does your company feel in this environment, what are your plans?

We retained the staff of Smart Solutions. The company has offices all over Ukraine: in Kyiv, Dnipro, Odesa, Lviv. Some colleagues moved within Ukraine, some are abroad. Our company had plans to enter the European market in 2022, the war forced to accelerate these plans. We have already opened an office in Warsaw, we are completing the opening of an office in Romania, in mid-summer we plan to officially open an office in the Czech Republic. Our company has a wide range of services in Ukraine, not only engaged in recruiting white and blue collar workers, Executive Search, but also provide services in outstaffing, outsourcing, personnel leasing, business process outsourcing, including IT, there are a number of services in the direction of facilitation including cleaning (retail, HoReCa, industry, storage facilities). That is, we can be useful in everything that concerns personnel and optimization of processes in the company.

Of course, European market is competitive, but our experience, team, deep market analysis, ability to cover a wide range of services as a single provider for the client, the ability of being flexible, fast, and a number of other advantages, which are better to be discussed later, give the grounds for successful start. Most of the clients that we have been working with for a long time in the countries of our presence are international companies. Entering new markets is an opportunity to expand our cooperation within Europe.

  • Which competitive advantages contribute to the development of the company and create a basis for optimistic plans for the future?

We are not focused on transportation of the personnel from Ukraine for employment in Europe, we are more focused on work with the local candidates. Our company is aimed at helping those, who were forced to leave, to find a job. We also plan to support those who are returning to Ukraine. The post-war economy will require recovery, and budget revenues in the form of taxes, so it is important to create conditions for the rapid return of the population and to create jobs for those who have left the country. I hope that the unification of Ukraine, which is now taking place, mutual assistance, and state policy will create a solid foundation for further development.