Language main challenge in employment of Ukrainian refugees

Ljubljana – The Employment Service has registered first Ukrainian refugees seeking jobs in Slovenia as demand from employers, in particular in the hospitality industry, remains high. Language is one of the main challenges.

To get on the register of the unemployed, refugees from Ukraine need temporary protection status. Once awarded the status they also get the right to enter the labour market.

The Employment Service started intensive preparations for the inflow of Ukrainian refugees into its register in March. So far fewer than five have registered, the service’s director general Mitja Bobnar told reporters on Tuesday.

To ease the refugees’ entry into the labour market, the service has published guidance and instructions in Ukrainian online as well as a glossary to help them learn Slovenian which they distributed to the service’s regional offices.

Its officials have visited the refugee centres in Logatec south-west of Ljubljana and Debeli Rtič at the seaside to dispense basic information. They also plan to open an info point shortly.

Damjana Košir, the head of the employment system, said Ukrainian refugees would get the same treatment as other unemployed, complete with an employment plan defining employment goals and a job referral.

Two key challenges detected during visits to the refugee centres are that the refugees as a rule do not have proof of their qualification or education and mostly do not speak English or Slovenian.

Employer representatives have let them know they find work experience more important than qualification. The available qualification proof is verified by the ENIC-NARIC centre.

As a priority the Employment Service will refer Ukrainian refugees to take Slovenian language courses as third-country citizens are required to pass at least Slovenian A1 level exam within a year after getting registered as unemployed.

They will also benefit from various other language courses, workshops and programmes.

There has been considerable demand for Ukrainian labour force, in particular in tourism and bar, restaurants and hotels sector. The Employment Service has promised to check the companies they will refer the refugees to.

Dewesoft, the high-tech company which operates a subsidiary in Russia, said today they would employ suitably qualified staff from the conflict region.