Council of Experts Publishes Analysis on Perspectives of Ukrainian Displaced Persons in Austria

PeopleOther ♦ Published: May 13, 2022; 16:26 ♦ (Vindobona)

In order to facilitate the integration of Ukrainians seeking protection who come to Austria, the Expert Council for Integration prepared a position paper on the perspectives of these very displaced persons. The recommendations in various areas such as work, education, social engagement and help for women will be taken into account by politicians in the future and actively integrated into projects.

Ukrainian children waiting for a train to an uncertain future. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons - Pakkin Leung, CC BY 4.0

The integration of displaced Ukrainians who arrive in Austria and want to seek protection here for the time being is one of the major challenges currently facing the Austrian government.

Against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine, the Expert Council on Integration has prepared a position paper on the perspectives of Ukrainian displaced persons in Austria.

In particular, the 13 integration experts around the Expert Council Chairperson Katharina Pabel dealt with the challenges of displaced persons in the labour market and in the school and education system as well as questions of assistance by civil society. Special attention was also paid to displaced women.

Since the current wave of refugees differs in many aspects from the 2015/16 wave to Austria and other European countries, an adapted catalogue of measures is urgently needed. As of the beginning of April, the authorities are currently aware of 68,000 registered Ukrainian nationals in Austria.

However, the number of unreported cases is probably much higher, as the number of persons arriving and departing daily is hard to predict. In the current situation, it is difficult to estimate whether, when and what return prospects the displaced persons from Ukraine will have. Many of them express the will to return as soon as possible.

Rapid access to the labour market

Due to their status as displaced persons, Ukrainians in Austria have the opportunity to take up work quickly. Many of the arrivals have education and qualifications that are in demand on the Austrian labour market, for example in the IT sector or in other STEM subjects as well as in nursing.

For successful integration into the labour market, the Council of Experts calls for competence checks to be carried out as quickly as possible in order to determine the qualifications of potential workers. School and vocational qualifications should be recognised as quickly as possible, taking into account the differences in the education system.

Educational opportunities for Ukrainian children

As there are also many children and young people among the arriving Ukrainian displaced persons (almost 35%), it is necessary to integrate them into the kindergarten, school and education system in Austria as soon as possible in order to enable them to live independently in the future.

The experts call for a temporary introduction of German support classes, as these are a means to enable pupils to follow regular classes as soon as possible by acquiring German language skills.

Assistance for women

The majority of the women who have arrived are fleeing alone with their children, some also with other relatives in need of help and care. They have had to take on great responsibility for the family during the war in Ukraine, during the flight and during the time of arrival in Austria.

Therefore, they are in a particularly vulnerable situation, which may have become even more critical due to traumatisation, fears and emotional instability. Since this particular vulnerability could be exploited by others, such as through exploitative working conditions, sexual exploitation or even human trafficking, it was therefore important that women be made aware of these dangers in an appropriate manner and be informed about support facilities and counselling options and, where necessary, be provided with concrete help.

Social commitment of the population

The commitment of civil society is of enormous importance, especially in personal encounters, in order to make it possible for the displaced persons to arrive in Austria despite the great concern about the situation in Ukraine and the relatives and friends who have remained there. Many helpful locals provided private accommodation and helped with donations of money and goods.

Nevertheless, especially in the area of accommodation and housing, private commitment cannot be a substitute for own housing in the long run.

The already tense situation on the housing market becomes all the more difficult the more displaced persons are taken in by Austria. The particular difficulties of displaced persons in finding suitable housing quickly must be compensated for as far as possible by appropriate support services.

Federal Chancellery of Austria