26 November 2007 New Lawson ORT-Career centres bring hope to isolated communities Opportunities are relatively thin on the ground in the small towns of Rybnitsa and Beltsy, less than two hours from the Moldovan capital of Kishinev. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe with a GDP per capita of $2,000 and nearly one-third of the population living below the poverty line. For the 3,000 Jews who live in and around Rybnitsa and Beltsy, it can be difficult to find decently paid, stable employment. However, hope has arrived with the opening of Lawson ORT-Career centres in the towns providing much needed ICT and business-related training. Like the four Lawson ORT-Career centres already set up in Russia, Latvia, Ukraine and Moldova, the new centres are linked by cutting-edge distance learning technology to World ORTs Jack Lawson Vocational Training Centre (VTC) in Moscow. The communities in Rybnitsa and Beltsy asked to join this initiative, which shows what a successful model the Lawson ORT-Career Programme is, said Dr Slava Leshchiner, Director of the World ORT Representative Office in Ukraine and Moldova. We are committed to supporting small communities, where the need for this kind of training is even greater than in the big cities where there are more opportunities. The Lawson ORT-Career Programme addresses the most serious employment problem facing members of the Jewish community in the Former Soviet Union: under-employment. The centres in Yekaterinburg, Riga, Kharkov and Kishinev and now Rybnitsa and Beltsy provide career-oriented training that helps ordinary members of Jewish communities to improve their financial situation, raise their standard of living and secure their future. The two new centres have already started their first courses in basic computer literacy but future courses will encompass business and office skills, understanding business accounts, computer graphics, desktop publishing, marketing and publicity, Computer Aided Design (CAD) and computer programming and databases. In addition, the trainees at Rybnitsa and Beltsy will have access to the careers advisor at the Kishinev centre, who can guide them throughout their course as well as give follow-up assistance. The careers advisor can also help trainees to find work locally or, for those wanting to make aliyah, in Israel. A trainee is introduced to computing at the Lawson ORT-Career Centre in Beltsy. Both Rybnitsa and Beltsy received computers from the JDC but did not have sufficient local expertise to exploit them fully. World ORT, which has unparalleled experience in delivering career-oriented training in the region, has, therefore, provided curricula and course materials as well as the vital link to the hub of the programme at the Jack Lawson VTC in Moscow. Following completion of a course, trainees sit an on-line exam set by experts in Moscow, passing of which entitles graduates to a prestigious ORT Moldova certificate. The training structure is modular which allows for flexibility in the set of courses delivered and relevance to the changing demands of the labour market, said Anna Teper-Baidina, project manager and IT teacher at the Lawson ORT-Career centre in Kishinev. Were confident that through these centres, local people will acquire the skills they need to overcome the ever-present threats of low income and job-insecurity. The Director of ORT Moldova, Vitaly Kirillov, also welcomed the new centres. The educational service which ORT provides to Jewish communities in Rybnitsa and Beltsy is important for promoting the competitiveness of Jewish youth in small cities where job placement is a serious problem. For me, this is a new and promising direction that ORT has taken in cooperation with local Jewish organisations. The Jack Lawson VTC was set up at the Moscow ORT Technology College in 2001 thanks to funding by the Carole and Geoffrey Lawson Foundation. Further Lawson ORT-Career Centres are planned for the major Jewish communities of Odessa and St Petersburg. After an enforced absence, World ORT returned to Russia in 1991. It now coordinates operations in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Kyrgyzstan 53 projects in 32 locations serving more than 26,000 people. World ORT is the worlds largest Jewish education and vocational training non-government organisation and has benefited more than 3 million people Jewish and non-Jewish in 100 countries since its foundation in 1880.