Empowering Ukrainian Refugees to Rebuild the Ukrainian Economy

Opportunity in Crisis

We propose a program centered on Ukrainian refugees (and the broader Ukrainian diaspora) in Austria and/or Germany. We choose these countries for several reasons. First, both countries host large numbers of Ukrainian refugees (over 1M in Germany and close to 100k in Austria) and are home to a large pre-war Ukrainian diaspora. Second, the refugees have legal access to the local labor markets and are overwhelmingly well educated. Third, the Austrian and German economies are developed, central, geographically close to Ukraine, and have immense potential to expand their value-chains eastwards. Fourth, both countries have a renowned vocational training system, one that Ukraine has tried to emulate in the last decades.

Our goal is to connect refugee and diaspora development to postwar recovery and renewal reconstruction efforts. To do so, we need to ensure that Ukrainian refugees find their ways to employers that are important potential future investors in the Ukrainian economy. This will not only require a successful integration of refugees into their host labor markets, but also an assessment of the most likely postwar development reconstruction trajectory of the Ukrainian economy. Moreover, participating firms need to be aware of the dual role they can play in this process, both as employers and as potential investors.

To facilitate this process, we aim to set up a pilot project in collaboration with partners in Austria, Germany, the US and Ukraine. The project has two main phases – an analytic phase and an implementation phase – as well as a smaller consolidation phase. The goal of the pilot is to implement our theory of change in order to achieve real progress for Ukrainians abroad and at home. We choose to do this at a scale that is impactful, yet manageable. In this way, we can prove and fine tune the principle of the intervention, determine the most effective ways of its implementation and establish how the approach can be scaled up.

The current project phase includes the analytic phase, in which we will conduct research and analysis that aims to determine the best way to reach the Ukrainian diaspora, to activate the private sector in Austria and Germany and, in collaboration with the Ukrainian government, to do so in a way that maximizes the transformational potential for the Ukrainian economy. In particular, we will:

A. map the geographic distribution of Ukrainian refugees and their wider diaspora in Germany and Austria, their skills, qualifications, and interests, but also the hurdles they face in finding jobs. This will help us identify which groups of refugees are most likely to benefit from this intervention, as well as what type of support they need to be able to participate.

  1. identifypotentialpathsforpost-warstructuraltransformationinUkrainethatmatchUkrainian policy priorities and help develop strategically important industries that benefit from the transfer of Western industrial knowhow and integrate the Ukrainian economy into Western value chains. This analysis will also shed light on how the Ukrainian government can facilitate these processes.

  2. liaise with large and medium-sized enterprises, chambers of commerce, and other employer organizations in Austria and Germany to understand the motivations and potential constraints of the private sector to participate in the project. In order to mobilize private sector interest in the project, we will also identify companies that are willing to train Ukrainian refugees as well as invest in Ukraine.

The first stage concludes with a study of the feasibility of the second, implementation stage. This includes a go/no-go recommendation as well as a detailed roadmap for the remainder of the project.


01.12.2023 – 
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