Flanders deploys additional resources to protect Ukrainians in labour market

The Flemish government will deploy extra resources to assist and support Ukrainians who fled to Belgium in their search for work and help protect them against exploitation.

Under the European Temporary Protection Directive, people fleeing the war in Ukraine are not only given residence permits and access to education, but also access to the labour market. So far, some 154 Ukrainians have spontaneously registered with the Flemish employment services VDAB.

“By helping Ukrainian refugees – who are willing and able to do so – to find work, we ensure that they can be financially independent more quickly. Moreover, this also gives them a network and social contact so that they can feel more at home here,” Flemish Employment Minister Hilde Crevits said in a statement.

The region will give the VDAB extra resources to temporarily employ 47 extra mediators to assist Ukrainian refugees in their search for a job, while ten additional inspectors will be assigned to the social inspection service to carry out 500 extra checks with the aim of combatting social exploitation and illegal employment.

“The welfare of refugees remains the most important thing. Therefore, we are recruiting more staff to provide additional guidance, and we are also strengthening the inspectorate to prevent exploitation. Everyone must be able to work here safely and be warmly welcomed into the work force,” Crevits said.

All Ukrainian refugees who are eligible to work will receive a welcome brochure introducing them to the VDAB, while the social services will also direct them to the employment office. The VDAB will also translate the most essential job offers into Ukrainian, so that the refugees are aware of their rights and obligations.

Last month, the VDAB launched a call for employers to report vacancies for Ukrainian refugees via #werkplekvrij (free job vacancies). In the meantime, 2,589 vacancies have already been posted via that platform.

Especially in sectors with bottleneck vacancies and where speaking the language isn’t a requirement — for example, the agricultural sector — people can quickly begin a new job.

© BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE: People pictured working at a center for the registration of Ukrainian refugees, at the Palace 8 hall of Brussels expo, Monday 14 March 2022. The center is opened to welcome Ukrainians fleeing their country after the Russian invasion.

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