Laptop computer displaying logo of Upwork.
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As the Russian attack on Ukraine continues to rage, some who have escaped Ukraine are needing help with job placement within the tech sector. To this end, Upwork has announced they are collaborating with non-profit organization, Tent, in order to help facilitate finding positions for Ukrainian refugees. The new initiative, entitled “ Opportunity Unlimited: Connecting displaced professionals to remote work ” is aimed towards connecting displaced Ukrainian professionals to remote work opportunities by the end of 2022.

The two companies have also announced that they will partner with a network of tech providers such as Payoneer, the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Non-governmental organizations including HIAS, Techfugees, Humans in the Loop, Na’amal, Upwardly Global and others to identify displaced talent who can use the Upwork platform.

“Our own workforce is significantly Ukrainian. We’ve got a lot of Ukrainian engineers and other professionals on the team,” said Patrick Hedren, vice president and head of global public policy and government relations at Upwork. “I think for a lot of U.S. companies, this experience has hit very close to home and we’ve been working incredibly hard, since even the end of last year, to try and do everything that we can for our colleagues and for people who use our platform there and beyond.”

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The Opportunity Unlimited initiative

While the campaign from Upwork and Tent can assist those with skills in tech categories such as web, mobile and software development, customer support and marketing, there are a variety of other opportunities afforded to those looking for job placement as well, according to Hedren.

“I think the latest count, what I’ve heard, is we have maybe over 10,000 different categories that are sort of broad enough, but specific enough to capture the work that happens,” he said. “But within those categories, we do certainly see typically a concentration in skills that are, for example, software engineering and design. We see accountants. We see sort of data science and data related roles and things like that. And certainly, those are some of the areas where we’ve seen our initial partners, like Bloomberg and Genpact and Sutherland, start to look at how we can put slates together that involve those specific skills.”

In addition to the remote opportunities afforded to Ukrainian refugees, Upwork is also providing help to displaced professionals such as:

  • Job matching between displaced talent and work opportunities available
  • Access to talent coaches who will help displaced professionals and advise them on how to market themselves to companies
  • Skills certification and badging to increase the chances for displaced talent to be hired

“It’s more important than ever that displaced people within and outside Ukraine are given the chance to earn income for themselves and their families,” said Gideon Maltz, executive director at the Tent Partnership for Refugees. “As permanent employment may not yet be available for most refugees from Ukraine, freelance work is a lifeline for connecting them to income and leveraging their skills, especially in the IT and digital sectors.”

Hedren says that while the war in Ukraine was the catalyst for the launch of Opportunity Unlimited, the long-term goal is for it to be self-sustaining and assist displaced people from a number of different countries, such as Syria or Venezuela.

“From this point, the goal is to really grow this into a program that’s viable globally and could apply just as much with people who have fled from other parts of the world that have conflict in them,” Hedren said. “We’ve obviously focused a lot on Ukraine, and the scope of the crisis there is truly remarkable and so fast moving. About 8 million people are internally displaced in Ukraine and about 5 million people who have crossed the border we think. Hopefully, in most cases temporarily, to leave Ukraine. So the scope of that is just staggering, and candidly, we know that we won’t be able to help everybody or help solve this for everybody.”