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Language, stigma among Ukrainian barriers to employment

Language, refugee stigma and a lack of public transport are among the barriers to employment for Ukrainians who have come here fleeing the war, a new survey has found.

The survey of just over 4,600 people who have come to Ireland from Ukraine since the Russian invasion in 2022, found that the majority of those who are not working would like to be.

The Ukrainian Action in Ireland survey (UAI) also found accommodation, status uncertainty and childcare are among some of the issues preventing Ukrainians from finding work.

The survey found more than 40% of Ukrainian people living in Ireland under temporary protection are currently employed but just 9% of them are working within their profession.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, one of the directors of UAI said the survey focused on integration and employment.

Anatoliy Prymakov said Ukrainians are actively searching for work, but are finding there are still some barriers to employment.

He said the study found that the vast majority of Ukrainians in Ireland are well educated and very experienced in their particular field, but “they’re finding it hard to work for various reasons”.

Anatoliy Prymakov said there is an increase in the number of Ukrainians who would like to stay in Ireland

Many respondents highlighted English as a big issue, Mr Prymakov said, adding that “if people don’t speak English, then only a fifth of that segment can find work,” and it is generally not in their field of expertise.

He said employment increases “dramatically” where people can speak English.

“Over 90% are trying to learn the language because they themselves see that that is key to employment,” he said.

Mr Prymakov said the study found that the hospitality sector is the area where most Ukrainians are finding employment.

He noted that many who have moved to rural areas of Ireland, where they had previously lived in cities in Ukraine, are finding it difficult to settle and find work.

“The lack of transportation to and from work, as well as childcare – they would be some of the top reasons,” he added.

Mr Prymakov said the UAI wants to help address those issues to get people into employment so that they can contribute to society “and that is super important because what we’re seeing is an increase in people that would like to remain in Ireland long term”.

“We figure [that] was around 40% last year, that is now up to 55%,” he said, adding that “it is important that we help those people be productive members of society in the longer term if they intend to stay here.”

The latest CSO ‘Arrivals from Ukraine in Ireland’ data showed that 17,702 Ukrainians were employed in Ireland out of the 57,672 Ukrainian adults with active PPSN numbers, just over 30%.

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