Thionville. The difficult job search of Ukrainian refugees

Work, an obsession

In the hubbub with Slavic accents, one voice makes the difference: that of Leocadia, a municipal employee, who serves as an interpreter as best she can. Polish by origin, she also knows a little Russian. “I’m doing like this! They need translation for everything, all the time,” she says between two solicitations. “Their stories move me; I try not to show it but it’s hard to hear their stories”, continues Leocadia who provides all-round information: where to take such a bus, how to get to the prefecture, how to fill in such a form, how to find work …

This last concern is in fact an obsession for most of the refugees, especially the youngest, but their professional integration is not self-evident. There are accountants, tertiary employees, girls who were engineering executives, nurses and childcare assistants, an architect, a lawyer… “They want to get out of it by themselves”, assures Leocadia who begins to know this small community by heart.

Since mid-March, around thirty women have come to register with Thionville Emploi, the municipal employment service. Last week, the manager brought a home service company to breakfast in the Saint-Nicolas space. Positions have been offered; distributed business cards.

The language, an obvious obstacle

In reality, the language barrier remains the main obstacle. The French courses offered by the pastoral ministry for migrants are filling up but the learning curve is long; you have to learn everything from scratch. For the moment, few employers have dared to offer positions because of this aspect. It’s too early, obviously.

Social downgrading is also a factor to be taken into consideration. “It’s hard to accept that you’re being offered labor positions when in your country you were somebody, with diplomas and a good job. These people have already lost so much, ”Leocadia still slips, compassionate.

And then there is also the question of the children, who are not all in school yet, and whose care would have to be organized in the event that the mother gets a job… “The situation is far from simple”, admit the social services despite the goodwill of the state to facilitate care.

Every day its problem

“Problems come one after the other. First of all, the question of housing had to be settled; employment comes next”, indicates the director of the CCAS. Here we are. It has already been a month and a half since the oldest arrived in Thionville and the surrounding area. The good news is that they will get their asylum seeker’s allowance around May 15th. A little breath of fresh air while waiting for peace in the country.