At national level, an inter-ministerial crisis unit is coordinating actions taken to host refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine, in cooperation with citizens, associations and local authority solidarity initiatives.

Reconnecting Ukrainian young people and teachers to education

The Ministry in charge of national education has implemented a set of measures to ensure that pupils and students from Ukraine can attend school as quickly and under as normal conditions as possible:

  • creation of a national unit to monitor the hosting and schooling of children arriving from Ukraine in conjunction with the dedicated unit at school districts and the inter-ministerial crisis unit;
  • facilitating enrolment procedures for pupils and students: at the school or education institution closest to the place of accommodation;
  • schooling children as quickly as possible: children are admitted to a school or education institution before taking the proficiency tests in French, and in mathematics (in secondary school), unless these tests can be organised earlier;
  • providing information documents about the French school system: a guide presenting the French school system has been translated into Ukrainian; a letter co-signed by the French and Ukrainian ministers of education is handed out to families, emphasising the importance of schooling even if their presence in France is temporary;
  • schooling procedures for children arriving from Ukraine: Ukrainian children, as any non-French-speaking newly arrived children, are admitted to regular classes and taught French as a second language, based on their needs, within the teaching unit for non-French-speaking newly arrived pupils and students (Unité pédagogique pour élèves allophones arrivants,UPE2A);
  • recruiting refugee teachers: to support Ukrainian pupils and students, school districts have been invited to recruit at least one Ukrainian teacher. As of May 16, 95 teachers had been or were being recruited. Most of them speak French and worked as teachers in Ukraine in various fields (French, languages, history and geography, maths, computer science, Russian, literature, music education, librarian), in universities or schools; the school districts also recruited early childhood staff, a psychologist, an interpreter and a pharmacist. The missions entrusted to Ukrainian teachers are:
  1. teaching French as a second language (either under a UPE2A scheme or by supporting a French teacher);
  2. monitoring the implementation of Ukrainian education, whether in class or remotely;
  3. promoting the pupils’ and students’ wellbeing and socialisation;
  4. supporting pupils and students: custom tuition monitoring, liaising between school and family, liaising with the school's educational team;
  5. teaching jointly with a French teacher in their field of discipline;
  • educational resources to discuss the Ukraine war with pupils and students were published in March 2022; an online training course was prepared for all educational teams to help them welcome students arriving from Ukraine or other war zones;
  • at the request of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, pupils and students may remain connected with Ukrainian education; in secondary education, adjustments to their timetable may be made by the headmaster. A page on the ministry's website provides an overview of digital resources available for following lessons remotely. User guides for these tools and content are also available in French.

Between February 2022 and 19 March, 16 895 pupils from Ukraine were received in primary and secondary schools.

In higher education, Campus France – the national agency for the promotion of higher education, international student services, and international mobility – provides information on the schemes available for migrant students to help them join higher education in French (enrolment process, learning French, recognition of diplomas, registration fees, gateway programmes).

Some 50 universities offer refugees French language learning programmes and support to resume their studies, aiming to provide them with the necessary knowledge and level of French to join university training programmes and improve their social and professional integration.

The ENIC NARIC national information centre is responsible for issuing comparability certificates. It has also produced a summary report about the Ukrainian education system.

The Erasmus + Education Formation France agency relayed to the initiators of mobility projects the possibility of redirecting available funding towards hosting Ukrainian refugees. Regarding higher education institutions, this possibility allows them to grant a mobility package to Ukrainian students and higher education staff, without the usual 20% budget limitation for mobility to third countries.

Supporting the social and professional integration of Ukrainian refugees

The head of the French Office for Immigration and Integration (OFFI) estimated on 24 May, based on data on the number of beneficiaries of the Asylum Seekers Allowance (ADA), that there were 85 000 Ukrainians refugees in France. Border officials (Police aux Frontières) recorded nearly 56 908 displaced persons who entered the country between 24 February and 20 May 2022, 98% of whom were Ukrainian nationals. In continuing training, different schemes are mobilised to help refugees learn or improve their French, and gain access to support and vocational training schemes to find employment.

Training schemes for access to employment and support and vocational training schemes, coordinated by the Ministry of Labour

Beneficiaries of temporary protection are granted an immediate work permit in France (Decree No 2022-468 of 1 April 2022 on the right to work of beneficiaries of temporary protection) by attaching the right to work to the temporary residence permit issued to them. They have access to active employment policy measures (training in the workplace, subsidised contracts, integration through economic activity, etc.).

The public service employment networks (Pôle Emploi and Missions Locales for under-25-year-olds) provide custom assessment of needs and support in finding a job, based on job opportunities available in the territory. For an earlier profile identification, an ad hoc form is available in French and in Ukrainian.

The GRETA (network of public provider of lifelong learning programmes) of the Nice school district, the second top school district in terms of number of refugees hosted, is offering French classes adapted to the work environment, funded by Pôle Emploi. These training courses comprise 290 hours of instruction, and their purpose is to enable learners to apply for a job, and to teach them the vocabulary relevant to the industry with the most job vacancies in the region.

A general and individualised support programme for the integration of refugees (Agir), already scheduled for June 2022, will be implemented for Ukrainian refugees. In association with the ministries of the interior, labour and housing, the purpose of this programme is to provide more integrated and systematic employment and housing support.

The Federation of social integration companies (Fédération des entreprises d’insertion) announced that it would support 10 000 Ukrainian refugees by the end of June.

Language training programmes run by the Ministry of the Interior or deployed by the Regions

A decree dated 3 May 2022 defines the conditions for facilitated access to language training for beneficiaries of temporary protection. Coordinated by the French Office for Immigration and Integration (Office Français de l’Immigration et de l’Intégration,OFII), this offer gives access to free French lessons (from 100 hours to 200 hours, levels referred to as A1, A2 or B1) after an assessment of written and oral skills in French.

The CARIF OREF network of regional employment and training observatories, in partnership with the Ministry of the Interior, has set up a geolocated mapping of the language training offer for newcomers and refugees. An information flyer presenting this service and the related application has been translated into Ukrainian and Russian.

The Regions also offer language training for professional purposes. Specific French learning tools intended for Ukrainian learners have been created: by the Ile-de-France Region, which offers, for example, French learning modules translated into Ukrainian on its QIOZ platform and mobile application, as well as a brochure presenting the application in Ukrainian.

Job training and employment challenges

The limited duration of stay under the temporary protection may not match with the duration of vocational training courses involving a commitment over a longer period of time, such as apprenticeship training.

In certain sectors/occupations, workers pointed out that there is a risk of downgrading for refugees with a high level of qualification, if they are directed to work in industries with the most job vacancies, such as home care or hotel and catering. A related issue concerns non-EU nationals who were studying in Ukraine, including students from Maghrib and sub-Saharan African countries, who had to flee the war and arrived in France, who the benefit of measures described above does not apply to. It is too early to assess comparatively the performance of the many measures and initiatives recently decided and implemented.

Read more:

A portal dedicated to businesses that can help by offering job opportunities, service offers and support. [Je m'engage pour l'Ukraine]


Please cite this news item as: ReferNet France; Cedefop (2022). France: integration of Ukrainian refugees. National news on VET