Working on all key area of refugees and migrants’ integration across Europe, SPRING project objectives and thematic priorities, as well as addressed countries, are directly touched by the ongoing refugees’ crisis.

With close to 4 million people who have fled across Ukraine’s borders following Russia’s invasion on 24 February, and the European Union and neighbouring countries are facing enormous challenges in receiving, accommodating and, eventually, integrating them. As 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, giving national administrations both a tool to respond to the crisis and the endeavour of making such rights a reality.

Within such framework, on 29 March 2022, SPRING and TRAFIG projects, with the support of ICMPD, held a webinar addressing labour market integration of people fleeing war in Ukraine, featuring a diverse range of experts and practitioners working on the field.

The discussion explored the key dimension of employment, providing a closer look as to 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, speakers highlighted a few common challenges. These include language barriers, insufficient job matching and skills recognition systems, and 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, 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, in partnership with the EU-funded Horizon 2020 TRAFIG project, which 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.

More information on the event and speakers can be found here.

The webinar recording is available here.