Ukrainians in EU have Found Temporary Jobs but Struggle to Access Public Services

World » UKRAINE | April 3, 2024, Wednesday // 11:28
Bulgaria: Ukrainians in EU have Found Temporary Jobs but Struggle to Access Public Services

Linguistic similarities, high levels of education, labour market shortages, the mobilisation of national and EU resources, civil society involvement, and close cultural ties have helped Ukrainian refugees to find temporary employment in the EU and Norway. However, there remain barriers in accessing longer-term employment and public services, in particular housing.

In the wake of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, there was a mass inflow of refugees from the country into the EU. The EU activated its Temporary Protection Directive, granting immediate temporary protection to Ukrainian displaced persons; 4.2 million were under temporary protection in the EU by September 2023.

A new report from Eurofound investigates labour market integration and access to and experiences with public services that are crucial for societal inclusion. The research explores and highlights the interplay between different areas of integration: employment, housing arrangements, healthcare (including mental health care), access to childcare and social assistance.

The report notes that most of the refugees are women and a large proportion have family and care responsibilities. While there have been numerous innovative measures introduced to address integration and employment challenges, for example, the hiring of Ukrainian teachers in childcare and schools, a lack of capacity and obstacles in recognising qualifications prevent longer-term solutions.

While levels of integration in the labour market, considering demographics and the traumatic nature of their arrival, has been positive, facilitating access to public services and housing has been an area of difficulty. The mainstream provision for welfare and services should be better adjusted to refugees' special needs. However, it should also be recognised that there have been comprehensive short-term efforts made across the EU, and considerable good will in local communities towards those fleeing the conflict.

Going forward, long-term housing solutions are required, including large-scale investment in building new houses and converting existing, run-down or energy inefficient buildings into suitable accommodation. There is also a need to improve access to health services in most countries, and in particular mental health services. These issues are also of concern for EU citizens.

Speaking on the publishing of the research, Eurofound Head of Unit for Social Policies Massimiliano Mascherini emphasised that, more than two years after the beginning of Russia's war against Ukraine, more permanent solutions are required for refugees, 'The large inflow of Ukrainian refugees came at a time when many EU Member States were experiencing pre-existing problems with their public services and housing. To respond effectively in the long-term, there needs to be affordable housing solutions to provide stability, continuity in the education of children and young people, improved integration into local school systems and local communities, and better prospects for more stable employment.

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Tags: Ukrainian, refugees, labor market, public services

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