TDs told one third of working-age Ukrainian refugees have jobs

Many refugees are women with children and not in a position to work, but job rate here higher than in other countries

More than a third of working-age Ukrainian refugees in Ireland are in jobs, a higher employment rate among people fleeing the war than in other countries, TDs have been told.

The Public Accounts Committee heard that there has been a surge in Personal Public Service Numbers (PPSNs) issued this year, with the 65,000 for people from Ukraine among 260,000 issued so far.

Department of Social Protection secretary general John McKeon said the previous highest number of PPSNs issued over the last decade was 180,000. He said that Revenue records indicate that about 11,200 people from Ukraine are in employment, more than a third of the approximately 30,000 who are of working age.

Mr McKeon said many Ukrainians of working age in Ireland were women who have children with them and they were not in a position to take up employment. There were some 20,000 Ukrainian children and 10,000 pensioners among the refugees in Ireland.


He said that forecasts suggested it would take two years to get to an employment rate of 25 per cent among Ukrainian refugees and the numbers in work in Ireland was “quite high”.

The figures emerged in response to questions from Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, who had asked about a recent recruitment drive in Spain involving Department of Social Protection officials seeking to attract 1,200 workers for the hospitality sector here.

Mr Stanley said he was aware that many Ukrainians in Ireland were mothers with children who may be in a precarious situation with accommodation, that efforts were being made to help them and “certainly that’s as it should be – they’re fleeing war and an awful conflict”.

He said there was still “a substantial number” of people from Ukraine who have skills that could be used in the hospitality sector and suggested recruiting them instead of seeking staff in Spain and “bringing another cohort” to Ireland during the housing crisis.

“I don’t think it’s one or the other,” Mr McKeon replied. “We have made a big effort with Ukrainian refugees as well.”

He said the department staff who went to Spain were “honest and open” about the difficulty getting accommodation in Ireland and recommended that anyone coming here for work should make arrangements for accommodation before they arrived.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times