According to the Slovenian authorities, 22 531 Ukrainian refugees have crossed the Slovenian borders; the majority travelled onwards and only 5 312 of them have applied for temporary protection status. The temporary protection status has been granted to 2 561 people so far.
According to the Temporary Protection of Displaced Persons Act, children and young people with a temporary protection status can enter the Slovenian Education system. They can enrol in kindergarten, primary school, upper secondary general and VET schools, and tertiary education. Pupils granted the temporary protection status are also provided with (extra) Slovene language courses.
To enrol in upper secondary or higher VET education, candidates must meet the standard entry requirements according to the Gimnazija Act, Vocational Education Act and Higher Vocational Education Act. They can enrol midterm in a programme or department as long as there are open vacancies. Enrolment is free for upper secondary students; a fee is required for higher VET.
The enrolment process is the same as that for candidates who have studied abroad. Applicants can get their previous studies recognised by providing appropriate documentation. Completed primary school is a condition for enrolling in the first year of upper secondary school. Admission to any of the other three years is up to the individual school’s decision, following a review of the applicant’s certificates and comparison of the education curricula of both countries.
For students without documentation of their previous education, the decision is up to each upper secondary or higher VET school. In this case, schools follow the guidelines of the National Education Institute and conduct an initial interview, use various prior knowledge assessment methods and prepare an individual learning plan.
Personalised education plans are prepared in accordance to the school curriculum. For first-year students, teachers can decide not to assess them in the subject Slovene language. Progression to the next year will be allowed if they obtain adequate grades in other subjects and with the headmaster’s agreement, which is based on the recommendation of the departmental school board.
Slovene language courses organised by primary and upper secondary schools at the beginning of the school year are compulsory and free of charge for all students with temporary protection status. In the second semester, additional Slovene lessons are provided (up to 70 hours). Primary schools receive two meals per day, while students in secondary and higher VET education are provided with one meal per day.
Ukrainian students can apply for admission to higher education according to the additional admission deadlines set specifically for them. Universities have also enabled enrolment midterm, for example via an Erasmus scheme.
A person granted temporary protection status has free access to the labour market and can be registered as an unemployed jobseeker through the Employment Service of Slovenia (ESS). Each registered unemployed refugee is assigned a personal career counsellor by the ESS. Together they prepare a personal employment plan, review the knowledge and work experience acquired, and determine possible employment options. Emphasis is placed on learning the Slovene language and familiarising oneself with the labour market system.
Some important labour market integration measures for Ukrainians include:
- on-the-job training: support of work and social integration through working experience in real workplaces, so that the person improves their competitiveness on the labour market;
- initial integration in labour market workshops: gaining information and knowledge on the Slovene labour market (types of employment, salary, health and security, etc.);
- support for vulnerable groups: workshops in development of career development skills, functional literacy, financial literacy for vulnerable groups;
- inclusion in all available active employment policy measures: Slovene language courses, short training programs, inclusion in education, etc.
The employers who wish to hire a Ukrainian refugee can contact the Office for employers. Short guidelines were issued for employing Ukrainians.
The ENIC-NARIC centre is responsible for verifying and validating tertiary education qualifications (diplomas, bachelor/master degrees, etc.) acquired abroad in order to support immediate access of Ukrainians to the labour market.
An effort has also been made to include licensed doctors and dentists in the Slovene health system as quickly as possible, while a contact point for the recognition procedure of qualifications gained abroad has been established.
Persons who have registered with the ESS in the past 2 months are in the initial phase of integration into the labour market. They are aware that their situation is not temporary and that they have to restart their careers. Most of them are still trying to settle down in Slovenia (looking for accommodation, arranging childcare or education for their children). Some people, especially those with an established social network in Slovenia, will find employment quickly, but in principle this is a long-term process, usually depending on the complexity of the job.
Language is another challenge, as there is only one Court-appointed translator for the Ukrainian language in Slovenia. Some schools require officially translated documents for enrolment, while others accept non-officially translated ones.
To address these issues, Ukrainian-speaking residents of Slovenia work with Slovenian charity organisations, accompany the refugees to administrative offices or provide translation/interpretation over the phone. Students of Slavic languages at the University of Ljubljana also help Ukrainian refugees with their inclusion in society and with learning the Slovenian language.