On 29 March 2022, ICMPD, as part of the TRAFIG and SPRING projects, held a webinar focused on the labour market inclusion of people fleeing war in Ukraine. The panel featured a diverse range of experts and practitioners working in the field of the EU and ICMPD Member States.
Close to 4 million people have fled across Ukraine’s borders following Russia’s invasion on 24 February, and many more will be displaced as the conflict continues. As a swift and pragmatic response, the EU’s Temporary Protection Directive was unanimously activated, granting beneficiaries immediate access to education, housing and healthcare services as well as the right to work. Now, national administrations face an enormous challenge to make such access a reality.
Against this backdrop, the webinar explored the key dimension of employment, providing a closer look at what the promise of immediate labour market access for Ukrainians means in different EU countries - whether and how this promise can be kept and what is being done to make it happen. Participants discussed prospects for labour market inclusion, including expectations, challenges, and opportunities, and shared their insights on the current situation in Poland, Lithuania, Germany, and Austria, as well as responses within the European Commission.
Besides agreeing on the continued urgency of the situation and the need for immediate interventions to facilitate the arrival, reception, housing, and legal status of newcomers, the speakers highlighted a few common challenges. These include language barriers, insufficient job matching and skills recognition systems, the risk of brain drain, alongside considerations regarding the temporality of solutions and worker mobility. Mental health and the crucial need to provide psychological assistance in the context of and beyond employment services also emerged as a priority during the discussion. Another common concern raised regards the fact that the majority of people who are currently crossing into the EU are women with children, who require specific support when it comes to finding employment, including childcare and access to the school system.
Finally, the speakers agreed on the importance of networks for refugees but also for employers, and on the need to pursue an ecosystem approach that involves all actors to address the abovementioned challenges. European institutions, national governments, local authorities, public employment services, the private sector and civil society should therefore work together to overcome current challenges and ensure long-term sustainable solutions.
The webinar was organised in the context of the Zooming in On Migration and Asylum webinar series, as a joint effort of two EU-funded Horizon 2020 projects, TRAFIG and SPRING. The Transnational Figurations of Displacement (TRAFIG) project investigates long-lasting displacement situations in Africa, Asia, and Europe and analyses options to improve displaced people´s lives, with a focus on the roles of networks and mobility. The Sustainable Practices of Integration (SPRING) project gathers available research and evidence on integration in the context of the large-scale movements of refugees and other migrants to Europe since 2014.
More information on the event and speakers can be found here.
The webinar recording is available here or down below.