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International Protection Office, Dublin
esri report

Language barrier among challenges for Ukrainians trying to work or study in Ireland

A new report analyses the government’s response to the sharp increase in the number of people given protection in Ireland.

THOSE WHO RECEIVE temporary protection in Ireland are sometimes struggling to access and integrate into employment and education due to the language barrier.

That is according to a new report by the Economic and Social Research Institute, which analyses the government’s response to the high number of Ukrainian arriving in Ireland.

There were 103,458 PPS numbers allocated to refugees from Ukraine in 2023, up 33,841 on the previous year.

A language barrier was a common challenge for them, the report said, compounded by a lack of English-learning supports for adults.

This made having an income independent of the State or pursuing further education more difficult.

Additionally, for young refugees from Ukraine, managing access to both the Irish and online Ukrainian curricula was a challenge, particularly at post-primary level.

There are some good educational supports, the report says, such as Regional Educational and Language Teams, as well as guidance issued to schools by the Department of Education on the needs of children with temporary protection.

This new ESRI research, which is co-funded by the European Union and the Irish Department of Justice, looked at the implementation of the Temporary Protection Directive in 2023.

The Directive requires the provision of supports and services to beneficiaries such as accommodation, access to employment, social welfare, medical care and education.

The government last year faced “significant challenges” in doing this, the report says.

Last month, the government made some changes to the conditions for Ukrainian refugees in Ireland, including a reduction in the weekly allowance for new arrivals and a maximum 90-day stay in State accommodation.

Amy Stapleton, who co-authored the report, said the effects of these changes have yet to be understood.

The report also noted good practices, such as the Citywest Transit Hub, which serves as a “one-stop shop” for new arrivals to get their PPS numbers, housing allocation and other services.

There is also immediate access to Jobseekers’ Allowance for beneficiaries, “collaborative efforts” between the Department of Social Protection, County Councils and various agencies, as well as outreach initiatives and events to support access to the labour market.

Medical card applications by those with temporary protection were also streamlined.

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