Labor loss: How neighboring countries attract Ukrainian workers?

Author : Yuriy Hryhorenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

Officially, more than 3 million Ukrainians are permanently abroad, and 7–9 million people leave for seasonal work
10:40, 3 June 2019

Open source

According to estimates by Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy, more than 3 million Ukrainians are permanently abroad, and 7–9 million people leave for seasonal work. On the other hand, the National Bank (NBU) predicts that in the current year the dynamics of labor migration would slow down.

This slowdown would not change the situation when Ukraine leads among European countries in terms of the projected reduction of personnel for 2019 due to labor migration (about 1.4%). PricewaterhouseCoopers’s study showed these results, where our country ranked first.

Poland is the most eager country to host Ukrainian labor migrants, this is the unequivocal leader. According to the official estimates, there are about 2 million people in this country. In 2018, almost 329,000 foreigners got work permits in Poland: 70% of them were from Ukraine. Within the framework of a visa-free permit, Poland allowed Ukrainians to work for up to 6 months for a year, and then they canceled testing for the foreigners’ employment.

Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and even Germany also took similar visa concessions, reasonably expecting to attract higher wages to those Ukrainians who now work in Poland (which is why the local employers are certainly not enthusiastic).

Related: Why labor migration leads Ukraine to dead end?

Russia has not accepted about 1 million people, who migrated due to the hostilities in eastern Ukraine and not only issued their citizenship to 360 thousand Ukrainians since 2014 (plus 77 thousand temporary residence permits and 65 thousands of residence permits). Now it has decided to issue a simplified procedure of issuing passports to residents of occupied Donbas.

How do countries facilitate labor migration?

Methods of attracting largely depend on the "quality" of the staff. For unskilled or low-skilled personnel, this means simplification of the migration regime. The visa-free regime made seasonal labor migration to EU countries easier.

According to Zhanna Balabanyuk, CEO of R & C Kyiv Group LLC, in terms of the qualified personnel, there are labor quotas. For example, Israel sets a quota for 20,000 Ukrainian builders.

We should not forget about the reduction of qualification requirements for foreign personnel. So, from December 2018, Germany opened up employment opportunities for Ukrainians, recognizing Ukrainian diplomas and reducing the requirements for language skills.

Related: Ukraine's election agenda and labor migration issue

“The world struggle for labor resources not only heated but has also become extremely aggravated in recent years. Therefore, the developed countries will continue to do everything in their power to actively attract labor resources, including from Ukraine,” Vasyl Voskoboinyk, President of the All-Ukrainian Association of International Employment Companies, notes.

Firms conduct searching

Foreign employers perform the second part of work – they offer relatively high salaries, provide social packages, help with arranging for a new place. IT specialists and to a lesser extent engineers are in high demand. Builders, drivers, and representatives of other working specialties are usually not offered this, although they would get compulsory insurance.

However, foreign companies are forced to search for personnel on their own or through intermediaries. They most often work through recruiting agencies, because it is customary to pay the costs of finding and attracting personnel to external contractors.

“A significant part of employers use direct search in the country and themselves are looking for staff through job search sites, freelancers exchanges, social and professional platforms, public events (exhibitions, conferences) and through direct work with universities: competitions, scholarships, grant programs, internships for students,” Zhanna Balabanyuk claims.

Related: Why creeping wages increase does not reduce large-scale labor migration in Ukraine

For individual companies, attracting migrant workers is somewhat different and depends directly on the business model of the enterprise. If we take for example transnational corporations, we will see that people from many world countries work there. At the same time, the offices of these corporations are located all over the world, employees can easily move from country to country.

Today it is a normal practice for global business. But if you drop to a lower level, the issue of attracting migrant workers is different. In Poland, some employers hire only Ukrainians, because it is easier to manage a homogeneous team of workers, labor productivity is higher when staff can easily communicate in the same language. Such companies create the conditions for labor migrants to concentrate as much as possible at work and spend a minimum of time on domestic issues.

Important nuances

A significant part of labor migrants do not work completely illegally, and their rights are not always protected, which they learn about only when, for example, an accident occurs.

Also, the usual situation is irregular working hours (6 days a week, 10-12 hours a day), non-compliance with safety regulations, the performance of work hazardous to life and health, untimely, and incomplete payment of wages.

On the other hand, a significant part of labor migrants finds work through the rumor mill, on the recommendations and advice of friends or relatives who have already had experience working abroad. According to Polish studies, only 10% of labor migrants are looking through Polish employment agencies. For its part, Ukraine is trying to protect labor migrants on the state level.

Related: Russia might use Ukrainian labor migrants to influence elections, - Foreign Intelligence

The Ukrainian parliament has registered the bill № 10272, which offers a real tool to combat the frequent cases of deception of Ukrainians when looking for work abroad. The sanctions include a complete ban on intermediaries to receive any financial reward for mediation in the employment of our citizens in other countries.

Ukraine is calling labor migrants back

Ukraine has simplified the recruitment of personnel from abroad. In 2018, employment for citizens of the CIS countries was facilitated. Previously, after issuing a permit for the use of labor, they had to leave Ukraine temporarily in order to immediately return with a note about crossing the border.

In March 2019, Ukraine has simplified a procedure to obtain D-type visas (long-term visas for more than 90 days) to non-residents from the EU and the US. This is very important for the IT industry since we have few industries that can afford to attract expats.

Related: Labor migrants to transfer $12,2 billion to Ukraine in 2019, - National Bank

Over time, our country would be able to become an attractive place not only for foreign IT professionals in the industry with relatively high salaries but also for other occupations.

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