Beyond its impact on the healthcare system, the COVID-19 pandemic via economic shocks has already reached labor markets throughout every economy. As of 1 April 2020, ILO estimates indicate a substantial rise in global unemployment, leading to 6.7% decline in working hours in the second quarter of 2020, which is equivalent to 195 million full-time workers. In this policy note we will draw the reader’s attention to the potential scale of the impact on the labor market and the respective social consequences in Georgia. We will identify a wide variety of groups affected by the COVID-19 crisis, with a special emphasis on the labor market, and provide our judgment on the possible extent of the repercussions. The current crisis affects almost every segment of the population, including members of the following large social groups:

While in an ideal world the qualification preferences of job seekers and employers would coincide, in reality this is often not the case. Besides informational asymmetries (job seekers not knowing which qualifications are demanded by employers) the reason is that employers may be in need of qualifications that are not considered attractive by the job seekers. In the country of Georgia, we want to address this problem through a “recommendation system” which will suggest vocational training to job seekers. There are two main problems to be tackled in this project: (1) How can we decide what would be the most useful qualification for a given job seeker, and (2) how can we incentivize the job seekers to follow our recommendations? This policy brief discusses our approach to this problem.

When Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich decided not to sign the association agreement with the European Union and instead opted for a Russian package of long-term economic support, many Ukrainians perceived this not to be a purely economic decision. Rather, they feared this to be a renunciation of Western cultural and political values, and – to put it mildly – were not happy about this development.

The Russian political system, characterized by a prepotent president, constrained civil rights, and a government controlling important parts of the economy through its secret service, is not exactly the dream of young Ukrainians. Russia can offer economic carrots, but these do not count much against the soft power of Europe that comes in the form of political freedom, good governance, and economic development to the benefit of not just a small group of oligarchs.

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