How your business can support Ukrainian workers

In February this year, Russia launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine, jeopardising the lives of millions. Since then, nearly 2,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed. And for the 10 million Ukrainians that have managed to flee their homes in a bid for safety, they are forced to rely on the support of other countries to welcome them.  

Many Ukrainian refugees have come to the UK to restart their lives and they face significant challenges getting into work. Some refugees fled before they had the chance to complete their education. Others are skilled workers facing the challenge of trying to get their qualifications recognised. 

When attacks began, there was immense shock and a desire to help echoed around the world. We surveyed UK businesses to explore their attitudes towards helping Ukrainian refugees. In the survey*, we discovered that four in five businesses (80%) want to help by welcoming job applications from Ukrainian refugees. It’s positive that businesses want to lend a helping hand to those who need to continue or start their careers in the UK. But how can you support Ukrainian workers to apply their skills to the UK labour market and navigate the working culture?

We provide tips on how you can best assist Ukrainian refugees during the hiring process and within the workplace. Ultimately, this will give them the best chance with integrating into a new society and gaining financial independence.



Currently, visas can be obtained through one of two schemes introduced by the UK government. These schemes were introduced to help Ukrainians settle in the UK and achieve refugee status. If approved, their visas will provide them with the legal ability to work, study and have access to public funds. 


  • The Ukraine Family Scheme

The Ukraine Family Scheme was introduced on 4th March 2022. The scheme allows Ukrainians with immediate and extended family members of British nationality or UK settled status, to obtain a visa.  Those who have their application approved under the scheme will be granted a visa that lasts three years. This will give them certainty and ensure their short-term future in the UK. As of 7th April 2022, 28,500 visas have been issued under the scheme.

  • Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (Homes for Ukraine)

The government recently announced the Ukraine Sponsorship Scheme (also known as  ‘Homes for Ukraine’), which allows communities, private sponsors or local authorities to sponsor people to come to the UK from Ukraine.  Sponsors are expected to provide accommodation for people arriving under the scheme for a minimum period of 6 months. Visas issued under this scheme will be valid for up to three years. As of 7th April 2022, 12,500 visas have been issued under the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

Despite the efforts put in place, there has been much criticism in the media that the application process is too complicated for Ukrainians. Many feel the UK government is not doing enough to support those trying to achieve refugee status and resettle in the UK. This concern has been echoed by 59% of hiring managers who told us they believe the government should be making it easier for Ukrainians to enter the UK. 

What benefits can Ukrainian refugees bring?


Greater workplace diversity

The benefits of diversity and a multitude of different experiences in the workplace are well-documented. 

We found that one-third (33%) of UK employers identified the potential to increase their workforce diversity by hiring Ukrainian refugees. Diversity aims are increasingly being seen as a strategic priority for businesses to succeed in the evolving jobs market.  

Our survey also revealed that 29% of businesses also recognised the potential to improve cultural awareness in their workplace. Employees’ diverse experiences, knowledge and skillsets can fuel innovation, positive organisational culture shifts – and ultimately, business growth.

High retention rates

For Ukrainian refugees, joining a workforce in the UK holds more weight than simply making money. It is also their opportunity to create new relationships and build their careers in the UK job market. Interestingly, 71% of employers think that an increase in Ukrainian workers could ease UK labour shortages. Refugees often seek to take jobs with longer-term employment so, when businesses hire refugees, they benefit from refugees’ high retention rates. In addition to this, 27% of hiring managers also stated that hiring Ukrainian workers would give them access to skilled and qualified candidates, helping to close the skills gap.


Challenges in hiring Ukrainian refugees…


Lack of English proficiency 

The language barrier is not only a challenge for Ukrainian refugees but also the biggest concern businesses face. When asked, 59% of hiring managers said that they consider the language barrier to be a challenge in hiring. However, English proficiency amongst Ukrainians sits only marginally below the European average and above the international standard. 

To help support refugees has made some of its career advice pages available in Ukrainian to facilitate the transition of refugees into the UK workforce.

But what can employers do to further support potential employees? Investing is essential. Firstly, you can provide entry-level English classes. Some employers may even have the option to nominate a Ukrainian-speaking colleague to act as a mentor during the first few months to ensure important notices and documents are understood.

Tailoring the hiring and workplace process

When we asked businesses their biggest concerns about hiring Ukrainian refugees, 36% of businesses expressed uncertainty about Ukrainian refugees’ skillsets. Many Ukrainian refugees have high levels of education and unique skills gained and developed in Ukraine. However, these can often be underestimated due to language barriers and a lack of documentation or proof of qualifications.  

Fortunately, employers have options to fully understand a candidate’s previous experience. Employers can use job profiling skills to evaluate competence during on-the-job training. There is also the opportunity to implement interview techniques that do not focus solely on UK work experience.

When qualification documents are only available in Ukrainian, they can be translated into English with the help of translators. There are also resources available online, such as UK ENIC, that will validate education and skills from Ukraine institutions.

In need of help, not helpless

Ukrainian refugees are often presented in the media as helpless individuals. Ultimately, Ukrainians fleeing war with the hopes to integrate into UK society are striving to re-learn occupations in the English language and a new job market. More often than not they simply need to be given the chance and support to utilise their skills and experience. For businesses that are willing to offer Ukrainian refugees employment, there is a need for you to learn and adapt workplace practices to successfully provide this opportunity. also continues to support those most impacted by the crisis through the Big Give’s Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, which has so far raised £3.5 million and is still doubling donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC). Over 10 million people have now fled their homes in Ukraine. If you want to support them, you can donate here at


* This online survey was conducted by Atomik Research and consisted of 251 hiring decision makers in the UK. The survey took place between the 7th – 18th February 2022. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides by the MRS code.

Hire the talent to transform your business

Reach active candidates by signing up to post a job today

Start hiring