Ukrainian displaced people - economic impact of migration: discussion paper

Provides an overview of the characteristics and lived experiences of Ukrainian displaced people seeking employment in Scotland, and contains illustrative modelling of the long term contribution that they could make to the Scottish economy.

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Characteristics of the Ukrainian displaced people and migrants

Ukrainian displaced people will likely face more barriers to integration than other migrants. This stems from them having been forced to migrate rather than having chosen to do so voluntarily. They may have had limited time to prepare for migration to Scotland and the UK. In general, where refugees have experienced these challenges, it can be difficult for them to enter local labour markets (Dustmann and Frattini, 2014). In addition, due to martial law preventing most working age men from leaving the country, mostly women and children have left Ukraine so far. Many of these women will have caring responsibilities, which may make it even more difficult for them to enter the labour market.

However, Ukrainian displaced people do have some characteristics that may facilitate integration prospects, such as high levels of tertiary education and existing social networks and, unlike other refugees, Ukrainian displaced people are able to enter employment immediately.

There is a high degree of uncertainty on the precise number of Ukrainian displaced people and migrants currently residing and working in Scotland.

Administrative data from HMRC’s real time information system, however, shows that of the Ukrainian nationals who applied for a national insurance number between the 4th of March and the 30th of September 2022, 1,950 were in payrolled employment in Scotland as at September 2022.  This data does not include individuals who are self-employed although this number could also be relatively small.

Published management information data on arrivals by location shows that, as of 31 December 2022, almost 16,400 working age (18-64) Ukrainian displaced people had received visas and arrived in the UK with a Scottish sponsor since March 2022 (Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, 2023). Not all arrivals will be resident in Scotland. However, if so, this would represent an increase in Scotland’s working age population of the order of 0.5%.

Further insights from UK wide data suggested:

  • the majority (80%) of Ukrainians having entered the UK have been educated to degree level or above
  • only 35% of respondents are currently working in the same sector they worked in in Ukraine
  • around 40% of respondents had been working in financial services, teaching and education, health care and arts, entertainment and recreation when in Ukraine – however, only around 18% of respondents were working in these sectors since arriving in the UK
  • 25% of survey respondents reported they had found work in hospitality since arriving in the UK, with 9% employed in food production. This compared with 4% and 3% having worked in these sectors respectively when in Ukraine (ONS, 2022b)
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