Immediate inclusion of refugees in Polish labour market
“I did the right thing coming to Poland, because here you can find work, make friends and acquaintances that will help you in all they can, and there are volunteers who will help you too”
- Darya, a 36-year-old mother of two, arrived in Poland from the bombed city of Zaporizhzhia
The project in brief
The project is implemented by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy in Poland. It began in March 2022 and is currently ongoing.
Refugees from Ukraine who have arrived in Poland since February 24, 2022, and benefit from Temporary Protection, can legally work in Poland, without any additional permits. In March 2022, the Government introduced a simplified procedure for Ukrainians to take up work in Poland. Relevant Ministries and Public Employment Services support Ukrainian citizens leaving their country to find suitable employment in Poland through different programmes and services. To further accelerate access to work, governmental online portal with job matching for Ukrainian refugees from Ukraine was launched in July 2022.
The main goals of the project are:
- Enabling socio-economic inclusion and sustainable livelihood through employment.
- Providing easy and free access to information about available employment opportunities
- Facilitating access to language learning and up/reskilling opportunities
- Supporting Ukrainian refugees planning to start a business in Poland.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The rapid opening of the labour market and access to schools and kindergartens provided to Ukrainian refugees has facilitated access to legal work in Poland. Existing online resources with job offers were quickly translated into Ukrainian (the Labour Office website, the Central Job Database). PracawPolsce.gov.pl - a free government portal specifically considering the needs of refugees – was introduced and boasts 250 thousand job offers available to registered users. The portal is available in Polish, Ukrainian and English. The system is matching the skills and qualifications of candidates with job offers from employers.
An activation programme for foreigners “Together We Can Do More” facilitates professional activation and social integration of all foreigners, including refugees, legally residing in Poland. In the frame of the programme, organisations supporting Ukrainian refugees looking for a job or planning to set up a business may receive financial aid.
The Polish Agency for Enterprise Development (PARP) offers an e-learning course in Ukrainian for refugees planning to set up a business in Poland. Public Employment Services offer the same tools that are available to Polish citizens, such as business grants, training grants as well as language learning opportunities.
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
The Polish government adopted a special law to regulate residence, social and employment-related issues. To enable Ukrainian women to work, access to childcare system for children under the age of three has been made available on par with Polish citizens. The labour market in Poland is exceptionally receptive.
- Ministry of Family, Labour, and Social Policy
- Ministry of Digital Affairs
- Public Employment Services
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
- Refugees from Ukraine, primarily women and children, often face the challenge of mothers wanting or needing to work to support their families. However, the lack of available childcare services can hinder their employment opportunities.
- In recent years in Poland, significant labour shortages in the job market have been predominantly filled by male migrants. Due to the situation in Ukraine, some male Ukrainian citizens chose to resign from their work in Poland to join the army in their home country. This factor has created a significant gap in jobs traditionally categorized as predominantly male occupations. A vast majority of refugees find employment below their qualifications. A significant number of those officially registered to work in Poland are engaged in professions that do not require high qualifications, such as salesperson, kitchen help, and cleaner. These are professions for which the supply and demand in Poland are balanced. They offer a good opportunity for income upon arrival but are not seen as a long-term solution.
- To reach their full professional potential in the labor market, it is essential to have a good command of the Polish language, at least at the B2 level, as well as a solid understanding of English. This need is particularly emphasized in specific sectors that are in high demand in Poland, such as accounting, nursing, teaching, and psychology, which require also a strong knowledge of the Polish language and legislation.
- Overall booth refugees and private sector actors indicate the lack of adequate knowledge of Polish language, as the main barrier to employment.
How they were overcome
- Childcare Access: One significant step has been to ensure that refugee children have access to childcare facilities comparable to those available to Polish citizens. This includes a valuable benefit designed to partially subsidize the parent's fee for their child's stay in a nursery, children's club, or under daily care. The co-financing for these services is transferred directly to the institutions providing care, obliging them to reduce the fees for the child's stay, making it more affordable for refugee parents. This not only empowers mothers to enter the job market but also ensures the well-being and early development of refugee children.
- Diploma Validation: For professions requiring certification, such as those in the medical field, simplified procedures have been implemented to expedite the process of diploma validation. This means that qualified professionals among the refugees can more easily have their qualifications recognized, enabling them to contribute to their fields and the Polish workforce without unnecessary delay.
- Polish Language Training: Access to language training is vital for refugees seeking employment and integration. Polish language training is financed through the Labor Fund and is organized by Public Employment Services. These language courses provide refugees with the essential language skills needed to communicate effectively and function in the Polish workplace, thereby increasing their employability.
- Financial Support for Diploma Recognition: Unemployed refugees and job seekers have the option to apply for financial support from the Labor Fund to cover the costs of diploma recognition, a key step in securing employment within their chosen profession. This financial assistance helps remove a significant barrier to entry into the job market, ensuring that qualified refugees can more readily find work that matches their qualifications.
Results of the Good Practice
- Increased access to employment and income for refugees
- Improved mental and physical well-being
- Better socio-economic inclusion of refugees in Poland
For host community:
- Refugees can reduce their reliance on government assistance and contribute to the Polish economy, paying taxes and creating jobs by setting up businesses.
- Increased workforce participation – Almost 200 thousand refugees from Ukraine are formally employed either through civil or employment contracts or self-employment and are registered in a social security system through ZUS (data from ZUS-Social Insurance Institution as of 30.06.2023)
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
Immediate inclusion of refugees in Polish labour market enhances refugee self-reliance and also fosters social inclusion.
Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?
- Language training: Many Ukrainian refugees do not speak Polish, which can make it difficult for them to find skill-aligned jobs. This creates a need for more language training programs to help refugees learn Polish and improve their chances of employment.
- Up/Reskilling opportunities: Some Ukrainian refugees may not have the necessary experience or qualifications to find employment in Poland. Therefore, more capacity building programmes could improve their career perspectives.
- Childcare: Many Ukrainian refugees are mothers with young children. The Polish government took action to facilitate childcare access, but this is an ongoing effort.
- Validation of qualifications: In Poland there are more than 350 regulated professions, many of them with required formal qualifications. There is a continued need to validate of qualifications.