03 June 2024 12:47

Ukrainian migrants on the EU labor market: what has changed during the war?

13 Ukrainian researchers have recently joined projects launched by research groups from the Netherlands. The researchers were successful in the ‘NWO Hop-On Call for Researchers Based in Ukraine: NWO-NRFU Partnership Initiative 2023’.

Tetiana Stepura, a professor at Lviv Polytechnic National University, joined one of the Dutch projects. The researcher plans to investigate whether the EU adheres to the principles of decent work for Ukrainian migrants and how deep the inequality in the labor of migrants from Ukraine is, but also whether there is progress in solving this problem.

We asked professor Tetiana Stepura to tell us more about the ideas that should complement the Dutch project ‘Working Democracy. A Philosophy of Work for Democratic Societies’.

“Even before the war, migration was a cause of loss of human potential, and the war has only exacerbated this issue”, the researcher noted. “That is why it is important to study the problem and look for ways to solve it”.

Currently, almost six million Ukrainians live in the EU countries. Most of them left the country in the first weeks of the full-scale invasion when the enemy was rushing to the capital and tank columns were moving toward Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and other cities.

In February 2022, the European Union activated the Temporary Protection Directive for the first time which granted unprecedented rights to Ukrainian citizens fleeing the war in terms of the length of stay in the EU, employment, education, medical care, etc.

“There have never been any similar precedents in history”, emphasized the professor. “That is why I suggested comparing how Ukrainian migrants felt on the labor market before the war and how they feel today, as well as to analyze possible obstacles on the way to decent work”.

The principles of decent work for all employees are provided by the Concept of ‘Decent Work’ which was adopted by the International Labor Organization in 1999. “But labor inequality still exists, and standards of decent work and social protection for migrants may be violated”, mentioned the researcher. “I suggested Dutch researchers investigate whether these principles are observed as for Ukrainian migrants. I believe my research will help to achieve the overall goal of the ‘Working Democracy’ project, to understand how different forms of labor (especially on the periphery of labor markets) affect people’s democratic views and whether they are in line with democratic norms”.

As part of the study, professor Tetiana Stepura plans to conduct an online survey among Ukrainian migrants (and not only in the Netherlands). “It is important to get answers to the question ‘What has changed?’, the researcher explained. “This will help to understand whether there is progress in terms of decent work for migrants and development of democratic values, to compare the situation before and during the war. Unfortunately, it is not easy to achieve this progress, and it is even more difficult to achieve it with regard to migrant labor”.

Professor Tetiana Stepura has extensive experience in researching migration processes, in particular, she studied the impact of Ukrainian migration on the labor markets of Poland and Germany. She has also developed her own methodology for assessing inequality and studied this issue in different regions of Ukraine.

While implementing the project within the framework of the NWO-NRFU initiative, the researcher plans to use the statistical database of European countries and European research. “European researchers are actively studying the issue of Ukrainian migration”, the researcher continued. “Young, able to work people have moved abroad, and this is a valuable resource for the economies of European countries. That is why Europeans are trying to understand the intentions of Ukrainians, whether they plan to stay or want to return”.

…In order to win the ‘NWO Hop-On Call for Researchers Based in Ukraine: NWO-NRFU Partnership Initiative 2023’, Ukrainian researchers were to find partners in the Dutch research community. We asked Tetiana how and where she looked for project partners and whether it was difficult to find them.

“I know that sometimes it takes a long time to find international partners, but in this case, thanks to the cooperation of the NRFU and the Dutch Research Council (NWO), I found them very quickly. During a webinar organized by the NRFU, I met an associate professor Lisa Maria Herzog of the University of Groningen. We work in different fields, but we immediately found common points of research interest”, the researcher replied.

According to the researcher, the multidisciplinary nature of the project will help to expand the focus of the study and cover wider labor markets in European countries. This is important because each country that welcomed Ukrainians has its own characteristics and it will be easier to disseminate the results of the work in the international group.

The added value of the project is also in the implementation of European academic values in Ukrainian research. “Ukraine will definitely become a member of the EU. The European research community realizes it and is trying to establish connections, tell about academic values and principles of Open Science in the European Research Area”, added the professor.  Our project is important for these reasons as well. I am grateful to the Dutch researchers for the opportunity to join their project, and to the National Research Foundation of Ukraine for their support!”

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