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E.g., 04/25/2024
Displaced Ukrainians find work quickly in EU countries — but barriers to quality employment remain
Press Release
Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Displaced Ukrainians find work quickly in EU countries — but barriers to quality employment remain

BRUSSELS — Displaced Ukrainians have made good progress entering EU labor markets since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, a new Migration Policy Institute Europe analysis finds, while noting that their employment rates vary widely from country to country. Many working-age Ukrainians have managed to find work quickly, aided by the activation of the EU Temporary Protection Directive that grants clear rights of residence and work; the pre-war experience many Ukrainians had with travel, residence and employment in the European Union; and a strong sense of solidarity with displaced Ukrainians.

Despite this rapid labor market entry, Ukrainians face a range of challenges, including language barriers and difficulties getting their credentials recognized. While an estimated two-thirds of working-age Ukrainian arrivals have a tertiary education, many have prioritized finding employment quickly over finding a job that fully utilizes their skills, in particular when they have family members to support or plan to return to Ukraine soon. The result has been that many have taken low-skilled jobs despite their higher qualifications. The desire for a prompt return to Ukraine also has shaped participation in integration programming, and what types of training or support are seen as most useful.

"The mismatch between workers’ skills and the jobs they hold could lead to a loss of earnings for families while also keeping European societies, which are experiencing acute labor shortages, from fully benefitting from the skills and experience Ukrainians have to offer," write analysts Maria Vincenza Desiderio and Kate Hooper. "These trends suggest the need for integration services that can support multiple aims and that have on-ramps for migrants seeking assistance after months or even years in a receiving country."

EU Member States’ response to the Ukraine crisis and displacement of millions has produced "remarkable innovations, promising practices and new partnerships that offer fresh ideas for how to approach labor market integration," the report finds. This fresh thinking and solidarity have been vital amid the challenges presented by the speed and scale of the arrivals, which placed enormous pressure on integration services and school, housing and child-care systems.

Among the innovations witnessed: the easing of labor market restrictions for foreign-qualified professionals in shortage occupations such as health care, education and child care; tapping the skills of new arrivals and diaspora communities to support Ukrainians; a fresh look at fast-track bridging training to help newcomers qualify for jobs in their chosen profession; and more flexible and accessible integration services, including via distance learning.

The report offers a number of recommendations for helping Ukrainians move into quality jobs at their skill levels, including streamlining qualifications recognition procedures; helping newcomers access child care, which is particularly important given the high share of women and children among arrivals; engaging employers, diaspora members and civil-society organizations more systematically in developing and providing integration supports; and making integration services more flexible and accessible.

"The labor market integration strategies of the future will need to accommodate migrant and refugee populations with a diversity of profiles and priorities, and significant shifts in demand for services over time," the report concludes. "Modular and more flexible approaches can offer more options for displaced Ukrainians and other groups (including temporary and circular migrants) to build new skills and address gaps in their training that might otherwise prevent them from practicing their profession, while also meeting labor market needs."

This report is the latest from MPI Europe’s Integration Futures Working Group, a Robert Bosch Stiftung-supported project that has brought together policymakers and experts, civil-society officials and private-sector leaders to create a platform for long-term strategic and creative thinking around immigrant integration.

Read the report, Displaced Ukrainians in European Labour Markets Leveraging innovations for more inclusive integration, here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/ukrainians-european-labor-markets.

And all of the work from the Integration Futures series can be accessed here: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/integration-futures-working-group.