Refugees from Ukraine who want to work face bureaucratic obstacles

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Waiting in the waiting room (avatar) ©

The restaurant and hotel industry is experiencing a massive shortage of staff. Could war refugees from Ukraine stand a chance here? Basically yes, but bureaucratic requirements slow down recruitment to jobs.

to Stephanie Unbehaun Sunday 26 June 2022, 8:00 pm|Last update: Sunday 06/26/2022 at 9:16 am Reading time: 3 minutes |

6.30 a.m. at the Cocoon Hotel in Munich: Diana Kiesel and her Ukrainian colleagues prepare breakfast for the hotel’s 100 guests. This young woman is one of many who have fled Ukraine. Susan Grill, Project Manager at The Hotel Group, is excited about the commitment of the newcomers. “They are incredibly hardworking and dedicated. So far we have had only positive experiences,” says Grill, who has worked in the catering industry for over 15 years.

However, she is not satisfied with the municipal authorities. It was only recently that everyone was officially allowed to work. And the promised treatment period of two weeks turned into three months. “It was torture with hours of phone calls and more than 50 emails to the city of Munich and the social administration,” she said. “Many refugees want to work, but bureaucratic obstacles fail.”

The seven Cocoon Hotels in Munich have been employing people from Ukraine for years. When Russia attacked Ukraine on February 24, employees were allowed to allow their families to continue. Friends and acquaintances soon followed. There are now more than 50 people, mostly women and children. “We want to help, but it has become very difficult for us,” Grill says.

“All German courses are fully booked”

The refugees are currently accommodated in the hotel. This can only be done through volunteer work and donations. Upon request, the Munich City Social Administration said: “In principle, refugees from Ukraine can decide for themselves whether they want to stay in the hotel or move to one of our accommodations.” However, reimbursement for housing costs is limited.

Lack of language skills causes problems. “All German courses are fully booked. We couldn’t find an interpreter, fortunately a friend stepped in,” Grill says. The fact that Ukrainians who could do translation work actually worked at the hotel was an advantage.

tremendous psychological pressure

The youngest refugee was a month old when he arrived. Now he has not seen his father for three months. “Women are worried about their husbands at war,” Grill says. Refugees suffer from enormous psychological stress and suffer from post-traumatic stress.

Organized living and working conditions are more important. But the barriers to entry into the labor market are high. In order to work as a refugee, you need a residence permit. According to the Federal Employment Agency, getting there is complicated and takes time.

Confession is not mandatory

Claudia Moravec of the Federal Institute for Vocational Training says: “As a chef or a specialist in the restaurant business, recognition is not absolutely necessary, because these professions are not regulated in Germany. This means that refugees from Ukraine who are already living in Germany can apply directly for vacancies in food industry”.

But in practice, it is not so easy. Each foreigner needs a so-called fake certificate, which proves the existence of a temporary right of residence. Munich is crowded with thousands of refugees. “We have to stick to the rules. It took a long time with a lot of people,” explains the city’s press office.

Ukrainians can be a job market opportunity

There is a huge shortage of staff in the restaurant and hotel industry. Julia Stamp, a spokeswoman for the Bavarian Employment Agency, sees in the Ukrainians a well-qualified workforce. “Especially in the medium term, Ukrainian women can be an opportunity for the German job market.”

But something has to change structurally. Grill reports on one of its employees who wants to open a bank account and gets an appointment in just three weeks. Such situations make it difficult for refugees to start over: “People yearn for normal, everyday life.” (epd/mig)

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