About the ILO in Ukraine

Embarking on ambitious economic reforms amidst serious security threats

Ukraine’s transition to a market economy faces serious political, economic, and security challenges. Ukraine has not yet fully recovered from the sharp economic downturn in 2014/15. The war in the East caused a 16% contraction of GDP and an internal displacement of 2.3 Mio persons. Between 2016 and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in late 2019, the Ukrainian economy showed solid growth rates of around 3.5%. Labour markets did not benefit much from this growth. Key labour market challenges remain low employment rates with a pronounced gender gap, high labour emigration, elevated youth unemployment and inactivity, and a notable skills mismatch.

The association agreement with the EU requires an ambitious reform of labour relations, including alignment with International Labour Standards and EU Acquis Communautaire. Additional efforts are needed to govern labour migration (as about 2.5 million Ukrainians are working abroad), to activate women, men, and especially youth that are not in employment, education or training, and to ensure the application of rights at work.

While the economy recovered faster than expected from the Covid-19 pandemic (GDP growth rate in 2020: -4%, in 2021: +3,5%, est.), the recovery of labour markets is lagging. According to ILO calculations, the country saw a decline in working hours of 8.5% in 2020 which is equivalent to 1.5 Mio full time jobs. In 2021, the loss of working hours only slightly decreased and is still at 7.1% (equivalent to the loss of 1.2 Mio full-time jobs). ILO forecasts say that this loss of working hours will go back to 3% in 2022, but the uncertainties around the pandemic as well as the security situation of the country are high.

ILO Interventions in Ukraine

The key strategic framework for the ILO’s work in Ukraine is the Decent Work Country Programme 2020-2024 (DWCP). The three priorities for the programme are 1) improved social dialogue, 2) inclusive and productive employment, and 3) improved working conditions and social protection. The current DWCP also includes collaboration on the promotion of the latest International Labour Standard, the Violence and Harassment Convention, 2019 (No. 190). The Ukrainian Government is committed to ratify this new convention.
Ukraine is a member state of the ILO since 1954 (as part of the former USSR) and since 1991 as an independent state. Ukraine has ratified 71 ILO International Labour Standards (Conventions), including the eight fundamental and four priority Conventions.

The ILO is part of the United Nations System in Ukraine. The United Nations Partnership Framework (UNPF) for Ukraine 2018-2022 prioritizes economic growth, employment, governance, and social protection as areas of strong ILO expertise, and assigned a lead role to the ILO in coordinating the UN’s work on employment creation.

Last updated January 2022