пʼятниця, 21 січня 2011 р.

From soldiers to entrepreneurs: NATO-Ukraine resettlement programmes bear fruit

Yuriy Sosedko and Viktor Poltorak are two former Ukrainian soldiers, who have transitioned to successful civilian careers thanks to NATO-sponsored retraining and resettlement programmes.

The Allies are working with Ukrainian institutions to support various initiatives to help mitigate the social impact of the country’s efforts to modernize and downsize its large conscript armies, a legacy from Soviet times.
From maintaining aircraft to managing hotels

Yuriy Sosedko was a Reserve Major, who maintained fighter aircraft in the Soviet Army. He came across an announcement on retraining in economics and management, one of the first retraining opportunities in Crimea co-sponsored by the NATO-Ukraine Resettlement and Retraining Programme.

He and his wife then set up a financial company that invested construction company capital. Soon afterwards, both finished the English language courses offered by the programme, and Yuriy became the manager of the Blue Wave Holiday Hotel in Alushta, Crimea. He is already thinking about how to give the hotel a competitive edge by offering English interpretation.

“International conferences take place and … the organizers speak English,” Sosedko says. “It would be simpler to communicate with these people in their own language. And for them this would be an extra factor in favour of this hotel.”

From air defence to human resources

Reserve Colonel Viktor Poltorak served in East Asia as well as Germany before becoming Commander of the Anti-Aircraft and Rocket Regiment in Khmelnytskyi in western Ukraine. He spent three years looking for work after the army, finding ad hoc employment, before enrolling in “enterprise management” training at the NATO-supported Resettlement and Retraining Centre based at the University of Khmelnytskyi in 2006. For the last three years, he has worked as the human resources director of a large agrarian company.

“I gained very good knowledge which helped me later on,” Colonel Polterak says. “I feel that now I am in the right place, I am happy.”

To find new employees, he attends the recruitment fair that the retraining centre organizes twice a year.

NATO-sponsored initiatives

Two important initiatives supported by NATO and NATO countries are underway to help Ukraine retrain and resettle former military personnel made redundant as a result of the progressive downsizing of the Ukrainian armed forces and plans to move towards an all-volunteer service.

By the end of 2010, NATO-Ukraine programmes had retrained 4673 former Ukrainian military servicemen with an average re-employment rate within six months of up to 70 per cent.

“The successful practical cooperation in this field is highly appreciated by Ukrainian authorities,” says Gérard Malet, who is responsible for overseeing the programmes within NATO’s division for Political Affairs and Security Policy.

Retraining programme

Following a request from Ukraine, NATO funds a retraining programme which has retrained 3227 former soldiers from 2000 to date. Beneficiaries can enhance their knowledge of foreign languages (English, French, German and Italian) as well as gain professional and managerial skills in a wide range of areas including agriculture, hotels and tourism, private security, advertising and publishing, and civilian shipping.

In 2011, another 600 Ukrainian officers are expected to be retrained at courses organized in 21 cities, taking into account labour market demands and regional diversification.

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