14th March 2022

Ukrainian refugee crisis: A significant source of new workers


Recruitment businesses and sanctions

For many, it goes without saying that the shock of the human tragedy we are witnessing in Ukraine assails our emotions. It’s a nightmare unfolding before our eyes. However, it is happening and the rest of the world has to deal with the fallout.

The humanitarian response has been overwhelming and sanctions activity against Russian assets and interests has been widespread and continues to grow. This includes targeting high profile wealthy individuals, political figures and businesses. Companies from the West are also suspending their operations. And it’s not just global enterprise brands such as McDonald’s and Estee Lauder, Airbnb, Starbucks, Coca-Cola and Ikea.

Recruitment businesses are following suit. To name just two, Hays has exited, closing offices in Moscow and St Petersburg, while talent platform Upwork has suspended all business operations in Russia and Belarus, taking full effect by May 1, 2022. This means clients and freelancers in the two countries will no longer be able to sign up for new accounts, initiate new contracts, and be visible in search on the Upwork platform.

The implications for the jobs market

The chances of the conflict reaching a swift resolution seem remote. With millions of Ukrainians on the move across Europe, the global family of nations that have expressed support for Ukraine at the United Nations general assembly is set to help accommodate those that have been displaced.

It is likely UK and Australia will see an influx of refugees over the coming weeks, months, and quite possibly, the years to come.

The Ukrainian community within the UK is put at some 70,000, and for Australia, the 2016 census data shows just over 13,000. This is likely to create a pathway to enable direct relatives fleeing the conflict to enter, with others seeking refuge to follow.

The obvious benefit for nations taking in Ukrainians is that there is a significant potential for migrants to be a new source of labour. In both Australia and the UK, once granted refugee status, they qualify for permission to work – in any profession and at any skill level.

The challenges of employing refugees

Some of the challenges for recruiters in working to place workers for whom English is not their native tongue relate to language. One barrier to employment identified frequently by refugees is English language and literacy.

Another challenge, especially for skilled roles may be the absence of proof of knowledge, skills and proficiency. Many refugees have fled in a hurry and documents are likely to have been left behind. Driving licenses, technical training, health and safety certificates are typical of the documents that may have been lost.

For academic, vocational and certifications awarded outside of areas within the conflict zone, sympathetic recruiters may be able to help in obtaining duplicates. Refresher courses may help to obtain alternative accreditations where this is not possible, or awards organisations are not functioning because of the conflict.

Once refugees have the necessary documents, recruiters are able to use ETZ Comply to manage the different strands of the onboarding process.

Accelerate onboarding and employment law compliance with ETZ

As the name suggests, ETZ Comply lets recruitment businesses accelerate onboarding and more easily manage the compliance requirements relating to employment law, including:

ETZ Comply is just one of the ETZ products that help recruitment agencies achieve uber-efficiency in the back office. It’s great for all contract, freelance, and permanent workers, not just those with refugee status.

Our market leading timesheet, invoicing and payment solution lets recruitment agencies execute error free back office processing, for all agency workers and contractors. To find out more, call us on 0800 311 2266 or book a demo.


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