Ukrainian refugees eager to start working as soon as possible

Photo: René Volfik,

Veronika and eight of her compatriots – all women with children – are welcomed at the labor office in Pardubice. Like everyone else who waits in line for hours outside the building, she’s ready to take on any job she can handle.

“I want a job. I have two dependent children, 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 have worked as teachers in the past have a huge advantage – schools in the Czech Republic are all looking for Ukrainian teachers to help start the Ukrainian Special Classes project. Others find work in hairdressers, beauty salons, as cooks, seamstresses or housekeepers. The initial offers they receive are often limited by the fact that they don’t even speak basic Czech yet. Labor offices offer both language courses and requalification courses to facilitate their integration into the labor market. Until now, the vast majority of Ukrainians working in the Czech Republic have been men employed in the construction industry or the agricultural sector.

Photo: René Volfik,

Although the Czech economy lacked around 300,000 workers before the start of the war, the fact that the majority of Ukrainian refugees seeking work are women, who do not speak the language, may place them in a position vulnerable.

Labor and Social Affairs Minister Marian Jurečka has previously warned against the illegal employment of Ukrainian refugees as a source of cheap labour. He said any attempt to abuse their fate would be heavily punished.

Labor offices, NGOs and even the Ukrainian community in this country are doing all they can to put newcomers to their advantage and prevent them from being drawn into the underground economy. Workers from the Labor Office are present at the regional access points to inform newcomers about the possibility of obtaining state aid and about the job vacancies currently available in their region. Mobile teams travel to areas where refugees are hosted in greater numbers to provide advice and information. Eva Miksova from the central labor office says they get a lot of calls from companies and institutions looking for new employees.

Photo: René Volfik,

“We get calls from large companies like Panasonic, but also from smaller companies looking for just one or two employees. Some are willing to train people themselves for the job they need. We receive a lot of calls from schools, town halls and entrepreneurs. There is certainly an interest in employing refugees.

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

Berta D. Wells