Over 30,000 Ukrainians have started work in Poland since Russian invasion

More than 30,000 Ukrainian citizens have started working in Poland since 24 February, when Russia invaded Ukraine and sparked a refugee crisis that has so far seen 2.5 million people cross the Polish border. It is estimated that over half that number remain in Poland.

In response to the influx, Poland has passed a number of measures designed to help the refugees, including giving them easier access to the job market. The permits previously needed have been abolished, and instead an employer simply has to inform the Labour Office about hiring a Ukrainian refugee within 14 days.

At a press briefing yesterday, the family and social policy minister, Marlena Maląg, announced that 30,000 have so far taken up work. Of those, three quarters are women. The vast majority of those fleeing Ukraine have been women, children and the elderly, with men aged 18-60 banned from leaving the country.

Maląg revealed that most of the new employees are working in big cities, such as Warsaw, Poznań, Łódź and Wrocław, reports the Polish Press Agency (PAP). She noted that the government is trying to encourage Ukrainians to also live and work in smaller municipalities.

So far, most arrivals have congregated in cities, with Kraków seeing its population increase almost 20% and Warsaw experiencing a similar rise. Local authorities in such places have warned that they are reaching the limits of how many they can accommodate.

As well as providing arrivals with shelter, food and other necessities, there have also been efforts to help them enter the labour market. The health ministry has introduced an expedited process for Ukrainian medical professionals to begin working in the Polish healthcare system.

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The education ministry and local authorities have also been seeking to hire teachers from among Ukrainian refugees, in particular to help educate the over 160,000 new Ukrainian children who have joined schools in Poland since Russia’s invasion.

Last week, education minister Przemysław Czarnek announced that 3,500 Ukrainian teachers have declared an interest in working at Polish schools. Over 1,000 have already signed up for a Polish language course to prepare them for work, said Czarnek, quoted by PAP.

In many cities, public transport operators, which have been suffering staff shortages, are making efforts to hire from among Ukrainian refugees, reports business and finance news service Money.pl. “The first five have already signed contracts,” said the head of the public transport network in Wrocław.

Polish schools hunt for new teachers as tens of thousands of Ukrainian refugees join classes

A number of local authorities told Money.pl, however, that there remain bureaucratic obstacles hindering the employment of Ukrainians. These relate in particular to recognition of qualifications (such as driving licences for certain types of vehicles) and criminal record checks.

Maląg announced yesterday that further legislation would be submitted to parliament to facilitate the recognition of qualifications from various professions, reports ISB News.

The minister also noted yesterday that the government has devoted 40 million zloty (€8.65 million) to a new programme, “Together we can do more”, to help Ukrainians enter the labour market. “We will increase this budget even futher, because we want Ukrainians to be able to stand on their own two feet here in Poland,” she added.

Main image credit: Grzegorz Celejewski / Agencja Wyborcza.pl

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