Photo by Kevin Woblick on Unsplash

A new study by the Ilko Kucheriv Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Kyiv International Institute of Sociology shows that 47.8 percent of Ukrainians would like to leave the country to work permanently or temporarily in Germany if they had the chance. 

It makes Germany the preferred destination for Ukrainians. According to the survey, 38.1 percent would like to work in the Czech Republic, 32.4 percent in Austria, and 31.3 percent in Poland. 

Next on the list is Lithuania with 23.8 percent, Slovakia with 21.8 percent, Hungary with 13.4 percent, Romania with 7.8 percent, and Moldova with 6.7 percent. The study also showed that 32.7 percent of the respondents didn’t want to work abroad in any of these countries. 

The changing labor market

3.2 million Ukrainians work abroad, according to a 2019 estimate by Ukraine’s Ministry of Social Policy. It has contributed to the decline in the Ukrainian population by 28 percent since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The World Bank estimated in 2019 that 10.3 percent of the Ukrainian GDP, about $15.8 billion, comes from remittances.

Ukrainenu recently spoke to Gennadiy Rusanov, who is the owner of the Ukrainian recruitment company ‘International Labour Centre’. He said that the demand for Ukrainian workers abroad is increasing due to the rising costs of people from Poland. 

“We are seeing that Polish workers, for example, are getting too expensive for foreign companies, looking for employees and we are hearing that some Polish workers are also ready to go home,” says Rusanov to Ukrainenu, who doesn’t expect that to change, “Workers from Poland can now earn nearly the same at home as they can in countries such as Denmark when tax and living costs are taken into consideration.”

“The result is that companies are now looking towards Ukraine,” says Rusanov, whose company works with several companies in Scandinavia, Europe, and North America overall in areas such as construction, processing, truck driving, and other professions.

The average salary for a worker in Poland is about 5504.52 PLN (about 1.200 euro) per month, according to Tradingseconomic, while the same number for Ukraine is about 14239 UAH (about 470 euro).

“Some might imagine that working outside of Ukraine is a dream for everyone, but it is actually not. There is a fragile balance. Besides Western Europe, Ukrainians can decide to go to Poland or other countries such as the Czech Republic, so there is competition for these workers and the breakeven point for Ukrainians to go work abroad in Western Europe is quite high at the moment,” says Rusanov, arguing that a Ukrainian worker expects to be able to save or send home a minimum of 1.000 euro per month when working in Scandinavia.