September 24, 2022

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More than 7,100 Ukrainian refugees are now in employment in Ireland, filling more than 8,000 jobs, according to the latest official figures.

There are 7,155 people from Ukraine at work in at least one job, with around half filling jobs in the hospitality sector which has been suffering post-pandemic staff shortages. Almost 7,300 Ukrainian children have been enrolled in Irish schools.

The 14,400 refugees from Ukraine in work and schools represents around one-third of those who have arrived in the State since Russia invaded their country in late February.

Figures provided by the Revenue show that as of August 15th, a total of 8,083 employments have been registered by 3,223 employers. The 7,155 people in work, some with multiple jobs, are individuals who have an active employment under the Temporary Protection Directive for those fleeing the war in Ukraine

They do not include Ukrainian nationals who may have been in employment in Ireland prior to the outbreak of the war.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) last week show that 15,627 people from Ukraine have attended Intreo Employment Services’ events in recent months. Of these 11,251 had previous occupations recorded, with “professionals” the largest group at 33 per cent.

The CSO data also shows that English language proficiency represented a barrier to work for 67 per cent of those that attended Intreo events.

The accommodation and food services sector has the highest number of jobs filled by Ukrainian refugees, with 3,587 in employment across hotels, restaurants and pubs.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) said that the hiring of Ukrainian refugees has helped with the staff shortages the hospitality sector is experiencing, but that the numbers were “only the tip of the iceberg” in terms of filling vacancies.

Mr Cummins encouraged the State to offer greater English language support to refugees, adding that the association is keen to work with the Government on training and upskilling.

“We have jobs to fill and we would like to see if there is an opportunity to help and provide work for those who want to work within the Ukrainian community,” he said.

Revenue figures show 1,098 jobs in the wholesale and retail sector being filled by Ukrainians as well as 660 jobs in manufacturing. Some 548 Ukrainians are working in administrative and support services and 359 are in construction.

There are 241 jobs filled in agriculture, forestry and fishing, 206 in the professional, scientific and technical category and 190 in real estate. There are 154 in health and social work.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) launched a portal for Ukrainians who wish to work in healthcare to register their interest as far back as April. The HSE does not hold data centrally on how many Ukrainian refugees it directly employs.

However, a spokeswoman did give the example of the HSE Live contact centre, which has a small team of people from Ukraine providing a Ukrainian language service to help people find health and social care services nationwide.

Other sectors with Ukrainian refugees filling jobs include education (150); information and communication (124); public administration and defence (104); transportation and storage (78); and financial and insurance (49).

All other sectors account for another 535 jobs according to the Revenue data.

Case study: ‘Of course I want to go back home but I don’t wait for it every moment’

“It’s difficult to do nothing. It’s difficult to be unemployed,” said Karina Sheludko when asked why she looked for a job in Ireland after arriving from Ukraine in March.

The 33-year-old works for the HSE Live helpline as part of a Ukrainian language team which aims to support refugees in accessing health services in Ireland.

From Dnipro in central Ukraine, Ms Sheludko worked as a travel agent prior to the Russian invasion upending life in the country. When the war began, she took some time to consider where she might go amid the exodus.

She considered other English-speaking countries like the UK and Canada but decided to come to Ireland because it opened its borders to Ukrainian refugees at the start of the war.

Ms Sheludko, who is living in Waterford, spent about a month searching for work upon her arrival. She then came across the HSE job advertisement after it was highlighted in a Ukrainians in Ireland group on the Telegram social media platform.

At present there are seven people from Ukraine among the HSE Live call centre’s staff, working remotely in different parts of the country.

She said the calls she handles can range from inquiries on where people can find GPs to accessing medical cards and continuing prescriptions for medication first made in Ukraine.

Asked if she likes the work, Karina replied: “Yes, if it’s not enjoyable, I would quit.”

She described it as “a good opportunity to help Ukrainian people” at a difficult time.

On her hopes for the future, Ms Sheludko said that like every Ukrainian person she wants the war to end, but “for now, we are here and we feel comfortable here”.

“Of course I want to go back home but I don’t wait for it every moment.”

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