Ukrainians keen to work but face real barriers to employment

BITCI News - Dec 01, 2023

Friday 1st December 2023, Business in the Community Ireland launched research findings into the experiences of and barriers faced by Ukrainians in obtaining work in Ireland. This research launch coincided with the graduation ceremony of its EPIC programme, which is a pre-employment support service targeting migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and recently arrived Ukrainians.  

As at the end of June 2023, there were over 47,000 adult Ukrainians in Ireland. Through our representative survey, 93% of respondents are looking for a job or willing to change job. Over 77% are open to availing of entry level roles outside their occupation to advance their career. However, real barriers to accessing the labour market remain. These include: 

  • Poor English language skills (only 21% of respondents have very high levels of proficiency in English),  
  • Frequent accommodation moves particularly to a new county inhibiting their ability to integrate into one area.  
  • Lack of professional recognition of their current qualifications.  
  • Cultural differences between Ukrainian and Irish job workplaces.  
  • Differences in job search methodology.  
  • Lack of professional networks. 

Interestingly, when asked from a range of pre-employment supports which would be most beneficial the answers included CV preparation, mentoring, interview skills, career advice and cover letters. All of these are included in our EPIC programme along with accessing expert career counsellors and availing of key business supports. EPIC supported 187 participants this year.  

Tomas Sercovich, BITCI CEO said “Creating inclusive workplaces is not only good for business but also for aiding social inclusion and cohesion. Ensuring your workforce is reflective of the society we live in is as important as ever. These research findings clearly demonstrate that the challenges faced by Ukrainians are often the same for other migrants and refugees and we all have a role in addressing them.”  

BITCI’s Employment programmes such as EPIC assists job seekers in navigating the Irish job market, increasing their confidence and partnering them with companies to secure supports and experience. Many of these companies are signatories to our Elevate Pledge to proactively create inclusive workplaces including BT hosts of today’s graduation ceremony. Already over 60 companies are signatories to the Elevate Pledge and BITCI urges more companies to join this collective movement with us to increase labour market opportunities to everyone.  

Mr Sercovich added “today’s celebration is to mark the achievement of our EPIC participants and to acknowledge our partner companies who demonstrate their commitment to being a diverse employer. Of this year’s group of 336 participants across all of our different employment programmes, 37% of them have found a job and 26% are participating in further training and volunteering.”  

Shay Walsh, BT Managing Director, said “BT is delighted to have been supporting the Business in the Community Ireland EPIC programme for 15 years through the provision of IT training to participants. BT knows how vital it is to be IT literate when competing in a very competitive labour market. Cumulatively we are proud to have helped upskill nearly 2,500 participants from multiple countries and it is heartening to know so many of them have secured employment afterwards. Eliminating the barriers to employment and ultimately creating a diverse workplace is important so that a company’s employees are representative of their customers. BT remains committed to being an inclusive employer. We congratulate this year’s EPIC participants and look forward to continued collaboration with BITCI.”