Less than half of Ukrainian refugees in Estonia have found employment

Unemployment Insurance Fund.
Unemployment Insurance Fund. Source: ERR

Less than half of the Ukrainian war refugees granted temporary protection in Estonia have found work; the situation has not improved since spring.

"It is stable at 38 percent, below 40 percent. Not many Ukrainians are being hired right now, which is rather worrisome, their employment rate should begin to rise slowly," Minister of Health and Labor Peep Peterson (SDE) said.

In Estonia, about 18,000 Ukrainian war refugees of working age have been granted temporary protection. From them, 8,400 are employed, which is slightly less than half of the total. A third of the refugees, or 5,800, are registered with the unemployment fund as unemployed, and there is also a third group whose whereabouts is unknown to the state.

Katrin Liivamets, the head of the jobseeker and employer services department at the Unemployment Insurance Fund (Töötukassa), said that approximately one-third of Ukrainians are inactive, based on the fact that 15 percent of refugees aged 20-64 are unemployed and not actively seeking employment through the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

Many of them have arrived in Estonia with small children and have no immediate plans to begin working. However, there are others who actively seek employment but lack work experience. The location of the job is often an important factor as well.

"It is possible that they are living in areas so remote from employment opportunities that they have given up and have not even registered with the unemployment office," Peterson said.

Those who are employed, however, work mainly in manufacturing or construction.

Several companies have developed creative recruitment efforts for war refugees. Swedbank, for instance, allowed immigrants to begin their Russian-language training before hiring them for positions in help centers and office network. Many IT positions, however, remain vacant.

"We decided to mark all our English-language job listings, i.e. jobs that require English language skills only, with a Ukrainian flag. This is to say that Ukrainians are welcome to work for us," Swedbank's Head of Recruitment Anette Kink said.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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