In the late 1920’s, the Soviet Union began a relentless drive to reshape its primarily agrarian culture into one dominated by industry. The push towards rapid industrialization placed greater difficulties on farmers, but it opened up fresh job possibilities in the cities. The growing need for trained workers lifted the masses of Jews previously relegated to the deprived classes into full citizens. Agro-Joint built on these developments with programs that trained Jewish youth for factory employment.
Between 1924 and 1930, Agro-Joint subsidized, organized, and equipped 103 vocational training schools with courses in metal working, wood-working, building, needlework, and printing. Most classes were in Yiddish, the government approved language for Jews. Student cooperatives sold products made in the schools and students received stipends for their work.
Many young Ukrainian Jews born in small towns during the first few years of the Revolution did not have enough training to apply to regular trade schools. Agro-Joint subsidized short training programs for them.
Agro-Joint officials tried to protect their clients while cooperating with the Soviet system. But conditions worsened. The authorities continually reduced Agro-Joint’s role, taking over its medical programs and factory schools in the mid-1930’s. The end of Agro-Joint in the Soviet Union (in October 1938) was rapidly accelerated by the Great Terror.