JOINTECH Talent: Empowering Ukraine’s Jews Through Employment Opportunities

Discover how this JDC program is changing lives (and boosting livelihoods) for talented Jewish freelancers in Ukraine.

By The JDC Team | January 29, 2024

At JOINTECH Talent, Tatiana K. helps Ukraine's Jewish freelancers maximize their potential and elevate their careers.

For Jews in Ukraine — still living through shelling and continuing uncertainty — the need for meaningful work and financial independence is as urgent as it’s ever been.  That’s where JOINTECH Talent comes in — the new JDC global online employment platform that leverages innovative technology to connect Ukrainian professionals and members of the country’s Jewish community with remote employment opportunities. 

In this Q&A, we speak to someone on the ground in Odesa — Tatiana K., JOINTECH Talent’s innovation programs coordinator. Through her work, Tatiana helps connect Ukraine’s Jews with exciting freelance opportunities via the JOINTECH Talent platform.

Tatiana K.

Q: Briefly tell us about yourself. What brought you to JDC, and what’s your role today?

A: I joined JDC in March of 2023 as the innovation projects coordinator, spearheading projects related to online education and freelance employment. My role involves overseeing the implementation of initiatives like JOINTECH Talent, which is aimed at fostering financial independence and employment opportunities within the Ukrainian Jewish community.

Q: Tell us about JOINTECH Talent. How would you describe its mission in your own words?

A: JOINTECH Talent’s mission is to empower lives through employment within the Ukrainian Jewish community. By providing learning opportunities and fostering freelancing skills through platforms like Fiverr, the project aims to offer financial freedom and employment to our community members. This project is innovative not only because of the technology we’re deploying, but the systems of support we’re creating amongst Jewish freelancers: We’re cultivating community.  

Q: How did you know this program was so urgently needed? What were the circumstances that led to JOINTECH Talent’s founding?

A: JOINTECH Talent was developed as a response to a rapidly changing employment landscape, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ukraine crisis, and other challenges faced by the Jewish community. JOINTECH Talent provides innovative solutions to boosting livelihoods and empowering individuals in uncertain times.

Q: What does JOINTECH Talent look like from the perspective of those engaging in the program? How does it work, from start to finish?

 A: If you’re a freelancer who excels in your field — photography, videography, translation, and more  — we will contact you and enroll you in our training program. JOINTECH Talent is so much more than just a relationship between freelancers and employers: It’s a one-stop shop for professional development, and we support you every step of the way. We teach you how to present yourself in an interview, create a Fiverr profile, assemble a portfolio, and more. We even invite people from Fiverr — experts whose full-time job is to create and understand the platform — to mentor the freelancers on how to leverage Fiverr to its fullest potential. They give real-time feedback to the freelancers, offering advice on how to improve their professional profiles. From there, you’re confident and ready for lucrative opportunities on Fiverr. And we’re always there to help, even after the official “training” has ended. Not only that, but you have a community of fellow freelancers just like you.

Q: What makes JOINTECH Talent so important for the people you’re targeting? What problem is it solving?

A: JOINTECH Talent addresses the economic challenges exacerbated by multiple global crises, offering a truly innovative solution for individuals to gain financial independence. It provides a means for community members to navigate uncertain times, acquire freelancing skills, and access the global job market from the safety of their homes.

A few months into the crisis in Ukraine, we organized focus groups involving individuals from within Jewish communities across the country. Our aim was to understand their most pressing needs. What emerged as the most common concerns — besides their own emotional distress and anxieties about their children’s schooling —  were people yearning for stability, particularly in terms of employment and income. It’s evident that employment, which serves as a symbol of financial stability, not only offers a source of income but also contributes significantly to one’s personal sense of pride and identity. JOINTECH Talent fulfills this more intangible, but crucial, need by offering people the chance for employment, productivity, and earning capacity, regardless of one’s geographical location.

Q: What do you hear from the freelancers you’re helping? How has this project impacted their lives?

A: Your question makes me think of Victoria, a freelancer from Poltava — she found employment opportunities through JOINTECH Talent and now volunteers with the program as a professional mentor. 

“If JOINTECH Talent didn’t exist, I wouldn’t have the financial independence I have right now,” Victoria told me. “Moreover, I see opportunities and real prospects — and this is extremely important right now because we need some light the dark tunnel we’re in. JDC is like fuel — it powers everything. And through JOINTECH Talent, it’s powering my future.”

Q: How does JOINTECH Talent – and JOINTECH more fully – reflect JDC’s global mission? Why should those who support JDC be excited about this innovative program?

A: JOINTECH Talent aligns with JDC’s global mission because we’re creating a digital platform where all Jews are responsible for each other — it’s an innovative and effective way to put kol yisrael arevim zeh la’zeh into action. By providing employment opportunities and fostering self-sufficiency, JOINTECH contributes to JDC’s commitment to building resilient, empowered, and dynamic Jewish communities. 

One freelancer told me, “JDC is like fuel – it powers everything. And through JOINTECH Talent, it’s powering my future.”

Q: Looking ahead five or 10 years, what’s your plan? How do you hope JOINTECH Talent will change and grow?

A: The vision for JOINTECH Talent involves continuous growth, expanding to new regions, and onboarding even more talent. 

Technological growth is one major priority. We aim to incorporate emerging technologies like AI into our platform, giving community members the chance to participate in an ever-evolving digital landscape. AI holds immense potential for matching the best jobs with the best talent. It can streamline employment development, recommend personalized learning paths, craft language for freelancers’ professional profiles, and provide insights for talent to thrive in the dynamic freelancing landscape. 

We also want to become a key resource and tool for alleviating poverty and addressing the increasing demand for JDC’s services. We aim to extend our support to community members who currently lack the skills for online work. Our plan involves providing them with comprehensive training, knowledge, local community support, and resources to empower them for online employment opportunities. In addition, we are dedicated to emphasizing the communal aspect of this work by fostering collaboration between various stakeholders within the Jewish communities themselves. This cooperative approach will facilitate connections between freelancers, as well as freelancers and the larger community, enabling the creation of robust professional and social networks.

Q: What’s the most important thing to remember about this program?

A: JOINTECH Talent isn’t just a project; it’s a transformative journey for communities and individuals of all ages seeking new opportunities and financial independence. It reflects JDC’s commitment to fostering innovation and resilience within Jewish communities, and I am profoundly excited about the positive impact it will continue to make in the lives of Jews in Ukraine and around the world.

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