Ukrainian refugees keen to start work as soon as possible

Labour offices around the country are starting to feel the strain of the influx of war refugees from Ukraine. Having settled down in their new surroundings, thousands of newcomers are now looking for a school in which to place their children and a job to help sustain them. The vast majority say that in the initial stage they are ready to take whatever they are offered.

Photo: René Volfík,

Veronika and eight of her compatriots – all women with children – are welcomed at the labour office in Pardubice. Like all those cueing up for hours outside the building, she is ready to take any work that she can handle.

„I want a job. I have two children to support, so I need to work.”

Of the 220,000 Ukrainian refugees who have fled to the Czech Republic so far, the vast majority are women. Those who are teachers or worked as teachers in the past have a huge advantage – schools around the Czech Republic are all looking for Ukrainian teachers to help jump start the project of special Ukrainian grades. Others are finding work at hairdressers, beauty salons, as cooks, seamstresses or cleaners. The initial offers they get are often restricted by the fact that they do not yet speak even basic Czech. Labour offices are offering both language courses and requalification courses in order to help place them on the job market. Up until now, the vast majority of Ukrainians working in the Czech Republic have been men employed in the construction industry or agricultural sector.

Photo: René Volfík,

Although the Czech economy was short of around 300,000 workers before the war started, the fact that the majority of Ukrainian refugees looking for work are women, who don’t speak the language, may put them in a vulnerable position.

Labour and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka has already warned against employing Ukrainian refugees illegally as a source of cheap labour. He said any attempt to abuse their plight would be heavily sanctioned.

Labour offices, NGOs and even the Ukrainian community in this country are doing their utmost to place the newcomers to their best advantage and prevent them from being drawn into the grey economy. Labour office workers are present at regional registration hotspots to inform the newcomers about the possibility of getting state support and the job offers currently available in their region. Mobile teams commute to areas where refugees are accommodated in larger numbers to provide counselling and information. Eva Miksova from the central labour office says they get lots of calls from firms and institutions looking for new employees.

Photo: René Volfík,

“We get calls from big companies like Panasonic but also small firms looking for just one or two employees. Some are ready to train people themselves for whatever position they need. We get lots of calls from schools, from town halls and entrepreneurs. There is definitely interest in employing refugees.”

Despite the offers, the task of finding a niche for so many people so fast will not be easy. There are currently over 220,000 refugees in the country and more likely to come. Under emergency legislation approved by the government they will be able to start work even without a labour permit as of March 31 and the vast majority of them are keen to start as soon as possible.