Job opportunities for the disadvantaged
“Rabota-i” is a social recruitment agency, based in St. Petersburg, Russia, which helps international and Russian companies recruit job applicants from disadvantaged social backgrounds. It seeks to provide employment to youth who’ve recently left state-run orphanages or NGOs, and also to young disabled people with no prior work experience - both social groups find it difficult to secure employment on their own, mainly due to a lack of practical skills and low motivation.
Tatyana, 19, a recent graduate from the SOS Children village Pushkin, outside St. Petersburg, now works as a cashier at an IKEA store. “Before this I only worked unofficially, and this is my first proper job – I really had to fight hard against my fears, but I tried and it worked out”, she says. For the first nine months of her employment, she was under the supervision of her IKEA colleagues and the specialists of “Rabota-i”.
“If you grow up in an orphanage in Russia, you end up having practically no skills by the time you leave. Public care systems are very strictly structured and socially isolating, which means that you also tend to have very low motivation for finding a job. You end up living on social welfare and communicating with a handful of other leavers”, says Mikhail Krivonos, founder of “Rabota-i”.
Six years ago Mikhail left his job at an international consulting company. He set up a social enterprise “Rabota-i” (“rabota” meaning “work” in Russian). ‘Rabota-i’ helps match companies with young people with low employment prospects. The social enterprise was created following Mikhail Krivonos, the founder of "Rabota-i"
Credit: Rabota-i the model of similar large-scale with adapting to their new Scandinavian organizations– employees, providing consultancy Samhall from Sweden, Vates from and coaching at the workplace for Finland or Klapjob from Denmark. the first six to nine months. “We are
Every year in Russia some working to fulfill the demand of businesses 10,000 to 15,000 young people leave – the financial support and state-run social care institutions (between control of “Rabota-i” also comes 300 and 400 in St. Petersburg), from a number of Russian and international with only 7% to 10% finding companies (including Melon employment and becoming part of Fashion Group, IKEA, Gazprom Neft, actively contributing to society. The East Capital and Jochnick foundation)”, majority of young graduates lives on Mikhail says. social welfare and socializes in The second target group of closed groups. Some of them go “Rabota-i” is young people with disabilities, onto engage in criminal activities and who’ve grown up either in suffer from alcohol or drug abuse. care institutions or at home. Still,
“When we first started in 2011 we most of them also find it extremely might interview 30 young graduates difficult to enter job market. “I have for existing job vacancies with only always felt ashamed of my disability, five of them getting back to us after which prevented my communication the interview and only one securing with people and chances of finding a a job – and then later leaving the position job. However, when I came for a job on the second day. But it is different interview with Maersk Line I finally now”, says Mikhail. “Rabota-i” felt comfortable, as if they didn’t notice invests in training and coaching candidates. that I was disabled”, says one of “Rabota-i” also assists companies the applicants, Alexander, 25.
Last year “Rabota-i” provided employment training for around 700 young people in St. Petersburg. “We try to help the ones who find it the most difficult to find jobs, young people up to 29 years old, who’ve not had an employment experience of longer than six months”, says Mikhail. Most of the applicants have found their jobs as junior shop assistants, administrative assistants, cleaning personnel, cloakroom attendants, watchmen, delivery men, cooks, repairmen.
“Our main aim is to help these disadvantaged young people have normal lives, to actively participate in society and to start a financially independent life”, Mikhail adds. Among the employers are big international and Russian companies, including Ahlers, befree, IKEA, JTI, KFC, Ulmart, Vaillant, ZARINA, and many others.
So far “Rabota-i” has only been active in the St. Petersburg area, but it plans to expand to other regions of Russia. “Both St. Petersburg and Moscow, Russia’s largest cities, have almost zero unemployment, making it easier for companies to open up for inclusive employment”, Mikhail Krivonos argues.
The company has also been actively cooperating with other social enterprises and NGOs that provide social adaptation programs. “Rabota-i” has attracted more than 600 NGO social workers engaged in working for social care institutions or with disabled youth to spread the word about employment opportunities for young people.
“We hope to create a framework available for organizations around Russia, including relevant approaches to vacancies and candidates, and ultimately to turn the organization into both a kind of a network, and also into a sustainable model which can easily be reproduced”, Mikhail also adds.