Report: How to Create Better Labor Market Conditions for Migrant Ukrainians
Report: How to Create Better Labor Market Conditions for Migrant Ukrainians

Report: How to Create Better Labor Market Conditions for Migrant Ukrainians


In continuation of our project “Future of work” we conduct studies on the future to create better solutions for today. This year (2022) war in Ukraine led to a migration of 16M+ people (internally and externally). Most of them are women with kids. With the help of this research, we intend to create better labor market conditions for migrant Ukrainians.

The world has already witnessed both economic and social effects of the crisis, which would only deepen over time. While all the stakeholders (refugees, employers, policymakers, etc.) are struggling now, new opportunities are created for a mutually beneficial future. We wanted to observe what is or seems to be happening to Ukrainians, identify the right problems, find working solutions and help scale them.

For the study, we used the environmental scanning approach from foresight methodology. Our sources included online interviews with refugees and initiatives that support them. Findings were prioritized and clustered under 3 main topics for the program:

  • Migration Policy – family under stress;
  • Mobile Economy – flexible contracts;
  • War Fatigue – mental support.

This research is our first step towards dialogue and incubation program. We’re inviting for the dialogue and collaboration:

  • Global Businesses and Funds,
  • Policymakers,
  • Ukrainian businesses that have relocated to other countries,
  • Volunteer organizations, NGOs and individual activists,
  • Migrant women in search of work.

Key Findings

Signals Distribution

For the most part, there were social and economic challenges. Limited impact of technological and political trends was found. Ecological challenge was not found at all, perhaps, due to low attention to this factor or its insignificance.


As a result, sorting by impact and trend acceleration let us focus on 3 key topics, described in detail below.

Migration Policy – Family Under Stress



Due to the martial law in Ukraine, men 18 to 60 y.o. are not let out of the country (with few exceptions). 5.7M+ Individual refugees from Ukraine recorded across Europe as of July ‘22 and 8M+ Internally displaced (as of May’22). 90% of whom are women and children, significantly changing social demographics in Ukraine and Europe and breaking families.

Currently, almost all Ukrainians believe in the victory and plan to return as soon as possible. However, not so many people believe in a quick win, and if war continues for more than a year, they might reconsider. It especially concerns high-skilled workers and students leading to the brain drain problem. But so far most of the refugees struggle to make a living due to various factors; sometimes they return to Ukraine for this reason.

Supply / Demand gap

  • Misunderstanding due to language and culture gaps;
  • Safety of the women (human trafficking, sexual abuse, etc.);
  • Issues with status (taxes, bank account, etc.) in a new country;
  • Limited time for childcare with a risk to lose work / status;
  • Social assistance is only slightly higher than salary and doesn’t cover expenses (e.g. in Switzerland subsidy is 500 francs, unqualified half-time work - 1000 francs with the abolition of the subsidy, kindergarten prices are ~2000 francs), making women stay with kids while relying on the assistance;
  • Lack of communication from Ukrainian embassies;
  • Structural changes in the age and gender (especially in Ukraine);
  • Most professionals could reside abroad if the war continues for long; it might be easier for their families to move with them than otherwise.


  • Strengthen local diaspora and self-help communities for better guidance;
  • Empower women for higher economical agency;
  • Expertise exchange and educational/scientific cooperation;
  • Migration policy evolution.

Mobile Economy – Flexible Contracts



Mobility of labor means the capacity and ability of labor to move from one place to another. It includes moving from one occupation to another or from one industry to another. In our case, mobility can help improving the rising employment mismatch.

Millions of the Ukrainians will stay abroad for more than a year and don’t have capacity to sustain long without the work. Still, it’s hard to find the work due to needed reskilling or upskilling, being not in line with local certification, language proficiency or just not being able to leave a kid alone.

As work of many institutions and enterprises in Ukraine was disrupted, many of them started to evacuate their staff to other countries. This decreases economic capacity of Ukraine as taxes and talent are at a risk to no-return.

Supply / Demand Gap

  • Big demands exist in the EU for medical, tech talent, teachers and daycare workers among others;
  • Most work contracts are for 1+ year with penalties for premature leave, while most people are unsure about their short-term plans;
  • English proficiency among Ukrainians reaches 63% (potentially higher for those who moved abroad), but it’s not enough for employment without the local language knowledge (especially in service-related work);
  • The vulnerable will suffer the most (e.g. people with disabilities whose number is growing because of war);
  • Applicants usually have to take lower-skilled work due to the market situation and certification misalignment;
  • Cultural integration and language barriers;
  • Housing and accommodation shortage.


  • New work models with greater flexibility: Gig, Digital, Remote;
  • Reduce the cost of social assistance for refugees;
  • Ukrainians can gain foreign experience and connections;
  • Upskilling / Reskilling;
  • A lot of new qualified workforce is coming to markets;
  • Transformation of refugee centers into adaptation centers.

War Fatigue – Mental Support



War became an everyday reality of Ukrainians and the perception of it changed from the adrenaline drive to the the non-ending fatigue. Even despite being safe abroad, most refugees are still unhappy. Women are dealing with rising pressures and general uncertainty. Not mentioning their family members who stayed in the armed forces or SAR. In addition, the culture of psychological help is not well developed in Ukraine; many people won’t get in touch with a professional psychologist because of problem's devaluation or cultural stigmas.

The study of Syrian refugee found that between a third to one half of adults were affected by PTSD . Another study in 2019 found a high prevalence of PTSD – 27% – and depression – 21% – among the 1.5 million internally displaced Ukrainians due to the last invasion of Russia and rebels in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Millions of Ukrainian civilians have experienced the trauma of war and will need time and treatment to recover before returning to fulfilling life and productive work.

Supply / Demand gap

  • No productivity / desire to work;
  • No culture of professional psychological help.


  • Organizations can support their Ukrainian employees and partners;
  • Effective programs can be scaled for wider audiences;
  • A lot of Ukrainians volunteer to support own peers.

Recommendations and Next Steps


  • publish the research;
  • cover the results of the study in stages: 2-3 publications per week in partnership with the relative initiatives;
  • provide information about the labor market in different countries: one of the rubrics to deal with the countries and features of assistance there for different parameters.

Stakeholder Dialogues

  • announce future dialogues, events, projects;
  • come up with new ideas, projects, and connections based on the research results;
  • talk about initiatives that help to get a job.

Community Incubation Program

  • create a community of 5,000 subscribers (women?);
  • form a community of socially active people around the study;
  • develop the brand of the Impact UA ecosystem;
  • cooperate with artists and NFT community.



In 2020, Impact UA – the ecosystem of positive changes – together with UNDP Accelerator Lab participated in the global research “Changing Nature of Work” for Ukrainian context.

Changing Nature of Work_first presentation.pdf4497.4KB

According to the results of this research, we found that inclusive workspace is one of the important topics worth paying attention to. We’ve organized several discussions with the relative stakeholders: government, business and people with disabilities. After that, we delivered a training on digital inclusiveness for officials.

This year, we have the most difficult challenge for Ukraine – war. Indeed, it affects the future of work in Ukraine and globally. We want to investigate what changes this terrible situation will bring to the labor market, economy, and people's lives. Hence, we are expanding the Support Ukraine Now ecosystem in the direction of the economy and employment.

Environmental scanning

Environmental scanning is the ongoing tracking of trends and occurrences in an organization's internal and external environment that bear on its success, currently and in the future.

We gathered signals in different sources:

  • interviews with Ukrainian women;
  • short interviews with initiatives that help Ukrainian women;
  • internet / online signals gathering.

All volunteers could share responsibilities and, for example, talk to an initiative or look for information on the Internet, except those who conducted interviews with women.

In total 8 research volunteers recorded 87 signals to the board:


For more details on of all signals:


Experts such as an anthropologist suggested that we include interviews with 19 Ukrainian women, making it a small but rich input source.

What context did we investigate?

  • women’s feelings;
  • how they reacted in the first days of war;
  • when they started to think about employment;
  • what barriers existed in finding the right job;
  • other ways of receiving income;
  • if they plan to return to Ukraine;
  • what values and needs do they currently have;
  • adaptation to the new reality;
  • similarities and differences in relocating and finding a job abroad and in Ukraine;
  • other.

Additionally, we raised the skills of our interviewers on crisis communication through a training with a crisis psychologist.


  • “Snowballing” – the majority of interviews were within our networking bubble leading to potential bias;
  • Little statistical data available, also unpredictable/unreliable data;
  • Possible political bias, peer pressure and norms (military duty, donations, using Ukrainian resources, family relations, martial law information spread laws);
  • More from the workers and small enterprises point of view; less from the large enterprises and governments;
  • The course of war and changes to the UA border crossing rules may quickly and significantly influence the migration and the needs and abilities of the migrants.


  • Organization Lead – Saya Zhaisanbayeva,
  • Interviewer Lead – Yulia Lehka,
  • Facilitation – Max Semenchuk,
  • PR, Copywriter, SMM, Campaign management, design – Katerina Delita,
  • Illustrations – Sophia Suliy
  • Editors:
  • Researchers:
    • Alex Bair,
    • Alissa Bankovskaya,
    • Anton Perov,
    • Dina Papamichael,
    • Katerina Delita,
    • Max Semenchuk,
    • Natalia Likhusha,
    • Saya Zhaisanbayeva,
    • Yulia Lehka.
  • Advisors:
    • Evgen Kylymnyk, UNDP Accelerator Lab,
    • Oleksiy Moskalenko, UNDP Accelerator Lab,
    • Oksana Udovyk, UNDP Accelerator Lab,
    • Katerina Pronoza, Crisis psychologist.
  • Partners:
    • Impact UA,
    • Support Ukraine Now,
    • UNDP Acceleration Lab,
    • Synchro Space,
    • Happy Monday.