Vocational Training Centre: Increasing Self-Sufficiency Amongst St. Petersburg Jews

The ORT Vocational Training Centre (“VTC”) was established in 2008 to enable members of St. Petersburg’s 120,000 Jewish population acquire new skills, primarily but not exclusively in information technology (“IT”) and to help them find jobs.

The Strategy
ORT VTC seeks to serve students in three broadly defined demographic groups: (a) Young adults, needing help in job searches, creation of projects, and business development, (b) Middle aged adults, needing to learn computer and other IT skills to improve their professional function, and (c) Older adults (approximately 25% of St. Petersburg’s population) whose lives are enriched through computer literacy and who, in some cases, use it in job searches.

The Program
VTC staff consists of: (a) five IT teachers, (b) an English language teacher, (c) a business coach, and (d) a psychologist. They provide a variety of programs at the YESOD Jewish Community Centre in St. Petersburg, a purpose-built centre with a high level of facilities situated in the heart of St. Petersburg.

These programs include:
- Career School for young adults, focusing on use of IT in job search and business development
- Courses for young adults, such as IT and math.
- One-day seminars for young people of specific IT tools (e.g., Excel, PowerPoint, Photoshop, and CorelDraw).
- Course on Jewish life, including use of IT to gather, present and disseminate information about the St. Petersburg Jewish community.
- Courses on business management and entrepreneurial skills
- English language course
- In-service training of employees of Jewish organizations – both office applications and skills such as time management
- In-service teacher training – for fifty teachers employed by Jewish day schools in St. Petersburg. Emphasis is on both IT proficiency and classroom techniques.
- Courses for seniors, enabling students to work with basic computer software, communicate on the internet, use IT at home and in job searches.
- Distance learning through webinars to train FSU Jews in remote places.

Since its inception, approximately 2000 have benefitted from the ORT-VTC in St. Petersburg – 700 in 2012-13. The program seeks to train 1500-2000 per year in the three years between 2012 and 2015.

ORT UK is looking to secure funds of £100,000 towards this programme.

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