How is Ukraine talent reacting facing the current war with Russia?
While the world was still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic of the last few years, on 24th February this year, the Russian Federation began its long-anticipated incursion into Ukraine. Despite warnings coming from all sides, and a promise not to invade by President Putin, little was done to prevent the eventuality and it seemed the world was sleepwalking into another crisis.
Of course, few (if any) areas are affected by the crisis as those currently living under bombardment in the country. Nevertheless, the effects have been widespread and continue to reverberate around the world. Economies are crashing, Europe has its first ground war in over 75 years, corporations are having to sacrifice their business, and energy prices continue to reach new highs.
Much in the same way the coronavirus pandemic arguably disproportionately affected the young, there are clear warning signs that this will be no different. With the Russian economy in free fall, having suffered the biggest single day on record, Western sanctions are clearly having the desired effect – but this is not without consequence for us. Almost every action we take will result in retaliatory measures and some of our own sanctions drive up the cost of everyday items for all of us here in the UK.
Whilst these price rises are near-universal, those of us still just at the beginning of our career path face some tough conditions in the months and years ahead. As recent graduates are often on quite low basic salaries, they are unable to cope with rapidly rising prices. With inflation levels in the UK currently at a level not seen since the last century, the government has been looking at ways of trying to ease the burden on everyday workers. The Bank Of England this week announced that it was once again raising the interest rate – this time to 0.75%, to try and counter the soaring cost of living. Nevertheless, the 1-2% rise people are seeing in their salary is nowhere near enough to offset sky-high inflation and the effect that has on them.
However, it is not just meager salary rises and rising prices that are currently affecting graduates in the UK as a result of the Ukraine crisis. With uncertainty growing in certain sectors of the workforce, those with previously solid career paths laid out are having to rethink their choices. Those with small investments in multinational corporations are seeing the value of the collapse. And, of course, as a country with such a high proportion of international students – there is a clear knock-on effect on their mental health.
There have been some truly inspiring reports of both current students and graduates rallying around their fellow alumni who have family directly by the conflict. The most obvious of these is of course Ukraine, but with the war in danger of spilling over into neighboring Poland or Lithuania there is a risk to students from these countries too and this is something they are acutely aware of. Universities have actually proved to be of great positive benefit, both in terms of supporting their students and helping to organize humanitarian and relief efforts.
At the same time, those with a Russian background have reported a rise in hate incidents and Russophobia. With sanctions being placed on some of Russia’s richest oligarchs and organizations, people in the UK have been keen to show their support to Ukraine by not buying Russian products. Nonetheless, we can all agree that this should not negatively affect Russian students studying here, who are ironically the ones most likely not to support the Kremlin’s position.
We all want to show our support and do what we can to help, but it is important to do this in a way that is targeted and which will actually be beneficial to the people of Ukraine. On a national level, there will be conversations over the coming months about how we can manage the refugee crisis we see unfolding. Many countries and sectors are issuing campaigns to specifically hire Ukraine talent. These campaigns can be especially noticeable with Ukraine graduates all in a stride to help with the refugee situation while still giving a sense of belonging in this terrible situation that was forced onto them.
Here at AM CityGrad we partnered with Angela Mortimer Plc to collect a vast quantity of little-used technology, to be recycled by a charity and the proceeds will be donated to the conflict. In addition, there are other schemes, such as JustGiving pages to help people club together and buy desperately needed medical items for the civilian population.
Unfortunately, this conflict shows no signs of easing any time soon, so we must all prepare to do what we can for at least a little longer. In the meantime, if you are able to, then please consider donating to one of the fantastic charities doing everything they can to assist in the crisis. The link to the Red Cross appeal, which has been doing some amazing work, is below: