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Ukrainian Trade Schools Struggle to Adapt

As Ukraine's economy picks up and demand for workers grows, the problems include substandard curricula and a lack of teachers

Once the backbone of the Ukrainian educational system, trade schools turned out steelworkers, cooks, mechanics, welders, and bus conductors to fill waiting jobs in the centralized economy. In the Soviet period, a skilled factory worker could earn more than a university-trained engineer.

When the USSR's collapse sent the economy into free fall, the reliable, cold-tempered link between schools, industry, and the huge Soviet market snapped. Vocational schools lost so much prestige that in the early 1990s primary-school teachers started threatening slow pupils with, "Study hard or else you'll end up in trade school!"