Ukrainian refugees
Lawyer Kateryna Bolotova couldn't wait to get back to Odessa with her two dogs. AFP News/Christophe ARCHAMBAULT

Since February 2022, more than 12 million refugees from Ukraine have crossed the Polish border to reach other states. Since the Ukraine-Russia conflict escalated, over 1.5 million people from Ukraine have been granted refugee status in Poland.

According to the Polish government, the people who have fled Ukraine have also registered for temporary protection and are seeking jobs in the country.

The Polish government noted that most of the people from Ukraine that have found employment in Poland are women. The authorities in Poland also recognised and recorded that, by the end of 2022, between 60 to 70 per cent of women from Ukraine had found regular employment in Poland.

According to the figures collected by the authorities in Poland – Poland collected around 4 billion zlotys (around £768.6 million) in taxes and social security payments from Ukrainian refugees. The Deputy Head of the state-run Polish Development Fund, Bartosz Marczuk, expects the finances to increase throughout 2023.

The Head of the Centre of Migration Research at the University of Warsaw, Pawel Kaczmarczyk, recalled that the employment rate of refugees in Poland exceeds the employment of displaced people in Germany by a huge amount.

Displaced people from Ukraine have found employment in Poland.

Pawel Kaczmarczyk stated that the success of the rapid integration of refugees in the Polish workforce is due to, "the Polish labour market now needs foreign workers".

The Head of the Centre of Migration Research also analysed the high level of education that Ukrainian women had received, and compared it with the jobs that they had found. Pawel Kaczmarczyk found that between 50 and 60 per cent of the employed refugees have obtained a university degree. However, only 33 per cent of the Ukrainian refugees that have found employment, are working in the top-tier job roles that they have studied for.

However, although most of the new employees in Poland's workforce are women, the women workers have been pushed into the 'social care' industry.

Iga Magda, a Labour Economist at the Warsaw School of Economics, told reporters: "Those who came later were much less likely to have skills, languages and money to invest in an apartment."

Although Ukrainian women are reaching out to take part in high-end job roles, and employment in the manual labour industry, "women are much more likely to work unregistered because many are in the care sector, which is still mostly part of our shadow economy", Iga Magda added.

In addition to a sense of gender bias, the call for foreign workers in Poland sets out to seek workers that would allow a low wage – according to Pawel Kaczmarczyk. Most of the high-level jobs in Poland require fluency in the Polish language, regardless of one's qualifications. Pawel Kaczmarczyk declared that many refugees from Ukraine have prioritised settling into cities that can provide them with social care services, instead of leading job vacancies.

According to the most recent numerical data, the cities that are most populated by Ukrainian refugees in Poland, have been Rzeszow, Gdansk, and Katowice. Rzeszow is around 100km from the border of Ukraine.

The Mayor of the City, Konrad Fijolek, explained that Rzeszow "is a reception point that plays a focal role in creating a peaceful and safe atmosphere".

Almost immediately after the conflict between Russia and Ukraine started, a 24-hour humanitarian aid station was set up at the railway station in the city. Warm food and beverages have been regularly distributed to the people fleeing Ukraine. There is also a call centre in the city, Rzeszow, that provides the people from Ukraine with conflict updates and humanitarian assistance.

"Knowing that departing to our city is often the first encounter with Poland we treat this aspect seriously. We are aware that tens of millions have placed their trust in Polish people since they decided to come to our country," the Mayor of the City added.