On 18 October 2022, the SPRING project, with the support of ICMPD, held a webinar on fast tracking the labour market integration of people from Ukraine. The panel featured six experts and practitioners, who shared their views on labour market inclusion from different angles.

Since 2015, Europe has increasingly acknowledged the importance of swiftly validating refugees’ informal and non-formal skills and recognising their foreign qualifications so they can contribute to local labour markets. The rapid arrival of large numbers of newcomers, including 4.5 million Ukrainians who registered for Temporary Protection in the EU, increases the need for additional workers across several sectors, including education and health care. In order to facilitate their access to the labour market, numerous EU countries have simplified employment procedures, especially for professions such as teachers, carers, intercultural mediators, doctors and nurses.

Against this backdrop, the webinar discussed challenges and opportunities for the labour market integration of persons displaced from Ukraine as well as lessons learnt from earlier approaches to fast-tracking labour market integration, for example, those set up in the context of 2015-16 or the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, it looked into good practices, tools and approaches for accelerating labour market integration in specific sectors or professions.

Panellists agreed that the key to successful labour market integration is finding the golden middle between fast tracking and giving new arrivals sufficient time to settle in while building skills and qualifications. This being said, migrants and refugees come with different profiles and experiences that require different timelines to adjust.

In their discussions, speakers stressed the fact that labour market inclusion yields better results when newcomers can access the whole “package” of integration services, including support for labour market integration but also regarding housing, language learning and day-care for dependents. Diasporas were discussed in this context in regards to their role in building bridges and providing support to newcomers in the host society. Finally, speakers highlighted the importance of easing regulations to facilitate newcomers’ access to job positions, especially in professions affected by labour shortages. Fast changing job markets may influence the approaches to labour market integration.