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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Orphans Offered Chance To Develop Business Skills

Even as Moscow's enterprising mayor prepares to force local businesses to hire orphans, one local businessman has created a training program aimed at giving these young people the skills they need to actually do the job.

Michael O'Leary, the director of sales and marketing at Moscow Cash & Carry Mozhaisk, and a charity group organized an intensive business training program for the graduates of Orphanage No. 24 and then got all 11 trainees hired at his wholesaler.

O'Leary and members of the Irish Orphans Committee said they worried about the challenges facing young people after they grew out of the orphanages.

"If the kids don't get some guidance after they leave the orphanage, there is a danger of them going off the rails," said Colin Johnson, the committee's treasurer and volunteer director of the program.

The program's commencement coincides with an order by Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov that all city businesses fill a hiring quota of orphans and disabled workers.

But while the city seeks to answer the question of finding employment for these groups through quotas, O'Leary has turned to training and job placement.

The project began after O'Leary enlisted the help of his colleagues in the business community to devise a 2 1/2-week training program for the 11 interested graduates of the 22 in the class.

The training period included sessions run by management at three of the city's major hotels -- the Baltschug Kempinski, the Radisson Slavjanskaya and the Renaissance.

"We put a real emphasis on the hospitality industry because if you can get that, you can get client relations in any company," O'Leary said.

The graduates also went to companies like Price Waterhouse, where they learned about financial management and McAfee, where they were given basic computer training.

O'Leary said an effort was made to have the sessions led by young, successful Russians.

"We were looking for people the kids could see as possible role models," Johnson said.

After the youth completed training, Moscow Cash & Carry Mozhaisk agreed to take them on for three-month contracts. If everything goes well, the contracts will be renewed for six months, the company standard, O'Leary said.

"We have everything we need to succeed," said Lena, one in the group of 17- and 18-year-olds. "It just depends on us to do it now."

The program will continue next year if it proves to be a success, O'Leary said.

"[The youth] have adapted very well," Johnson said. "Even with something like punctuality. It's amazing, but you tell them to be somewhere at certain time and they are there. I'm not sure it would be the same with a group of Irish or English teenagers, for example."