Will Ukrainian refugees be able to find work in Czechia?

Arrivals from war-torn Ukraine number over 100,000, and steps are already being taken to ease their integration into Czech working life.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 09.03.2022 16:52:00 (updated on 10.03.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

Over 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in the Czech Republic since Russia’s invasion of their home country on Feb. 24. Frantic humanitarian aid work is underway to provide them with food and shelter, and public fundraising campaigns have shattered records for the most money raised by Czechs in response to any disaster situation.

Yet new questions are quickly emerging. Chief among these is where those arriving in the Czech Republic can find work once their basic needs have been met. This is part of a broader concern for integrating refugees into Czech public life in an effective and humane way.

Private non-profit initiatives are already springing up to find solutions to the problem of refugee employment. An example is the Jobs4Ukraine initiative, which functions as a jobs portal for positions that employers in the Czech Republic, and elsewhere in the EU, believe are suitable for Ukrainian refugee applicants.

Darina Onoprienko, a Russian expat living in Germany, founded the initiative in response to the horrors of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “I could not simply sit and watch the news and do nothing,” she told Expats.cz.

“Our mission is to create a fast lane for people coming to Europe to find a job. It’s not a big jobs portal; it’s a way for refugees to get information quickly. All of the jobs listed on the site have been deemed by employers to be suitable for refugees.”

Some 32 percent of the jobs on the website are based in the Czech Republic, while 36 percent of applicants have so far been based in Czechia. Unsurprisingly, given the boom in demand for employees in the IT sector in Central Europe, many of the jobs listed on Jobs4Ukraine are in the tech sector.

But the portal is also looking to branch out to provide a fuller range of options, while providing jobs requiring only Ukrainian or Russian language abilities. Employers who believe they may have suitable openings are encouraged to get in touch with the portal.

“We’re switching our focus to also provide blue-collar and jobs for those with lower qualifications,” said Onoprienko.

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Non-profits aren’t alone in attempting to tackle the issue of finding employment for Ukrainian refugees. The Czech government has already tabled measures to make finding work easier for those arriving in the country, including a waiver on the usual requirement to obtain a work permit.

It’s also looking at more targeted measures, such as allowing Ukrainians to gain work in the Czech education sector based on individual assessments by schools, meaning they won’t have to obtain official recognition of their qualifications. Education is seen as an area that could provide employment for Ukrainian workers, with schools encouraged to view refugees as potential candidates for non-teaching staff positions.

The current state of the Czech jobs market means it should be possible to find enough openings for refugees. Unemployment is low, and demand for workers is high; businesses have been struggling to find workers to fill vacant posts ever since Covid restrictions were loosened last year.

A normal working life may seem far away for those fleeing conflict; but in Czechia, there is a growing determination that those forced to leave their home should not also be forced to abandon their careers.

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