For Ukrainian refugees, generous but “premature” job offers

The announcement is spectacular: the Transdev group, which operates 170 transport networks in France, offers no less than 1,000 bus driver or mechanic positions to Ukrainians who have found refuge in France. Initiatives in this direction are multiplying.

→ READ. How is the reception of Ukrainian refugees in France organized?

“Employers’ proposals range from one to several thousand jobs, everywhere in France, and cover the whole range of trades, from factory operator to the position of commercial consultant”, sums up Thibaut Guilluy, High Commissioner for Employment and Business Commitment, who oversees the Internet portal “Les entreprises s’engage” (1).

It is on this site that the Ministry of Labor opened on March 17 a tab dedicated to the reception of Ukrainian refugees. Since Russia started the war on February 24, nearly 30,000 people have arrived from Ukraine in France (as of March 24). The temporary protection scheme from which they benefit allows them to register with Pôle Emploi and work.

Barriers to employment

“There is an undeniable desire among companies to mobilize on this subject, and that’s good news”, welcomes Didier Leschi, head of the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFII). However, he is surprised “of a form of runaway business and French society. Indeed, 80% of displaced people in France are women and children. Their priority is to find calm, before returning as quickly as possible to Ukraine. »

For Didier Leschi, talking about the economic integration of Ukrainians is therefore “premature”. “That would amount to integrating the idea of ​​a long stay in France, which implies the defeat of their country. There is a psychological step there that they are not ready to take immediately,” he adds, listing the barriers related to language, skills, and the many preliminary issues to be resolved before talking about employment: access to housing, childcare, etc.

Anticipate requests

The actors who are mobilizing say they are aware of the complexity of the situation and its share of uncertainties. “People will not necessarily have a priority to work after fleeing a country at war”, thus recognizes the press release from the Federation of Integration Companies (FEI), which offers 10,000 jobs throughout the territory (temporary work, maintenance of green spaces, etc.). “It’s not about forcing anyone, says its vice-president, Céline Courtois, but we believe that work is a way to integrate, regardless of the length of stay in France. We want to be able to respond to these requests. »

→ REPORT. In Paris, Ukrainian refugees welcomed in the cardboard structures of Shigeru Ban

Anticipation is also the strategy claimed in the ministries concerned. “All Ukrainians in France do not project themselves in the same way, recognizes Thibaut Guilluy. Some are already asking us the question of work and we want to be ready to answer, pre-identifying all the opportunities. » And by organizing coordination between companies, Pôle emploi and ministries (labour, housing, social affairs in particular). Without forgetting the reception cells managed in each prefecture. With a logical priority: “We are going to strengthen the existing public language training offer, it is a strong expectation of companies”, describes Thibaut Guilluy.

Internal skills

Some already claim a certain practice. “In addition to our expertise in social support, we have been supporting refugees for five to six years”, explains Céline Courtois to the FEI. To which must be added internal centers for teaching French as a foreign language, training and integration courses, etc. Housing and childcare places are managed with local partnerships (social action centers, town halls, etc.) .

For its part, Transdev will collaborate with NGOs to establish links with Ukrainian refugees. After learning French for a while, then a few months of practical training, Édouard Hénaut, the group’s Managing Director for France, judged “it is possible to integrate these people into our workforce within twelve to twenty-four months”.


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