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Factsheet for measure HR-2022-13/2746 Updated – measures in Croatia

Free Croatian language courses for Ukrainian refugees

Besplatni tečajevi hrvatskog jezika za izbjeglice iz Ukrajine

Country Croatia , applies locally

    • – HR031 Primorsko-goranska županija
      – HR033 Zadarska županija
      – HR035 Splitsko-dalmatinska županija
      – HR036 Istarska županija
      – HR041 Grad Zagreb
Time period Open ended, started on 21 March 2022
Context War in Ukraine
Type Other initiatives or policies
Category Promoting the economic, labour market and social recovery
– Active labour market policies (enhancing employability, training, subsidised job creation, etc.)
Author Predrag Bejakovic (IJF)
Measure added 08 August 2022 (updated 17 April 2023)

Background information

One of the most important hindrances for the successful inclusion of refuges from Ukraine is the lack of Croatian language knowledge. In many cities around Croatia, like for example, in Buzet, Osijek, Varaždin, Zagreb, Rijeka, Split and Zadar, free Croatian language courses were prepared for refugees from war-affected Ukraine, who found temporary accommodation in Croatia. The courses are organized mostly by various Open Universities or foreign language schools and with the financial support of the local governments and the Red Cross Society.

Content of measure

The basic courses vary from 30 to 50 school hours. The courses for beginners are mostly held three times a week, during June and July 2022, according to the "Croatian language for foreigners" program. Free Croatian language courses are important and necessary, especially since the labor market offers a large number of seasonal jobs where Ukrainians could also be employed. Croats would like their new fellow citizens to integrate into the local environment as painlessly as possible. Therefore, the goal is to reduce the language barrier, making it easier for refuges from Ukraine to successfully communicate and solve their basic needs and any problems they encounter.


The following updates to this measure have been made after it came into effect.

29 March 2023

in the records of the Croatian Employment Service, there are currently 612 refugees from Ukraine in the status of temporary protection, and since the introduction of this status, 968 persons have been employed through the mediation of the Service. Among the people who came to Croatia, about 70% are highly educated. There are also numerous medical doctors, but it is publicly not known whether anyone is employed in the profession so far, although there are those who have started the process of having their diploma recognized, as a first step. Some doctors perform lower-skilled jobs or work as pedagogues and/or psychologists, while some nurses work as cleaners or carers. Although Croatia has a burning problem of a lack of medical staff, highly educated people refuges cannot find a suitable job because they do not know the Croatian language at the B2 level. Furthermore, the problem is also the high costs of the qualification recognition procedure, for court interpreters and translations of the necessary documentation.

21 October 2022

In the last 6 months, Croatia has become a temporary or permanent home for 20,000 Ukrainians who fled the war. The association Svoja, which brings together Ukrainians in Croatia, was presented in Zagreb. It has only been active for a few months and so far has around 50 members. A gathering was organized in the cultural centre in Dubrava, in Eastern part of City of Zagreb. Most of the refuges came to Zagreb in April 2022. Some of them participated in the language course organized by Svoja, and found jobs in Zagreb, but often not in their profession. Therefore, they want to return to their professions. This is exactly what the newly conceived association Svoja should help them with. The association plans to finance its activities from donations, and until then its members are volunteering. Their purpose is to help Ukrainians in finding a job, learning the language and integrating into society. Most of the refuges are already halfway to that goal.

27 August 2022

The Croatian language school for Ukrainian refugees has been organized in the City of Samobor. For most of them, it was difficult at the beginning, but they noticed similarities with the Ukrainian language and with the adequate aid after some weeks of learning they could understand about 40% of Croatian. At the beginning they learned some basic greeting phrases and everyday communication. This support and collection of humanitarian aid have been organized by the local primary school, local Red Cross and local trade union organisation.

27 July 2022

Thanks to the pilot project of Croatian Caritas and Catholic relief service (CRS) textbooks and workbooks for learning the Croatian language were provided for Ukrainians who found their new home in the city of Velika Gorica. Croatian language courses for Ukrainians who have sought temporary protection and safety in Velika Gorica take place three times a week at the People's Open University, and are led by Dr. sc. Dariya Pavlešen, senior lecturer for the Ukrainian language from the Department of Ukrainian Language and Literature at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. About forty people are currently taking the course, some of whom come from Novi Zagreb.

21 March 2022

The Economic and Social Council (ESC) on 21 March 2022, gave full support to the Government's efforts in activities related to the reception, care and integration of Ukrainian refugees into Croatian society and the labor market, and a stronger involvement of social partners at the county level was agreed. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Davor Bozinovic, in a statement to journalists after a meeting with representatives of trade unions and employers, said that the ESC expressed full solidarity and concern for the Ukrainian people, who in these moments of war are suffering the greatest consequences of devastating Russian aggression. The ESC supports the activities and efforts of the Government of Croatia in aiding, reception, care and integration, of Ukrainian refugees into Croatian society. Based on the EU Directive on temporary protection, this also implies support for inclusion in the Croatian labour market and in the education system and support for the learning of Croatia language, while respecting their choice. Ukrainian refugees have guaranteed equal rights in the labour market. The social partners have agreed that all of them from their area of jurisdiction and activities will ensure the same rights and opportunities as Croatian workers have for the Ukrainian refugees. Similar tripartite meetings of social partners on this topic will be held in the future, apart from at the state level, also at the county level, given that most of the operational work - especially when it comes to care, education, finding jobs on the labour market - will take place precisely at the local level. Social partners are fully aware that the issue of accepting refugees from Ukraine is an extraordinary issue that additionally encourages the exchange of experiences and corrections if necessary, in order to make the engagement as effective as possible.

Use of measure

In Buzet there were fifteen participants, in Zadar thirty, and in bigger cities like Split and Zagreb even more. The course leaders are mostly professors of Croatian languages, while in Buzet it is a professor of Ukrainian, Russian and Croatian language, translator and court interpreter from Rijeka. She is originally from Ukraine, and came to Croatia to study in 1996 and has remained here until today. If there are people interested in additional learning of the Croatian language at a higher level, organizers are willing to continue the courses in the fall.

Target groups

Workers Businesses Citizens
Does not apply to workers Does not apply to businesses Migrants or refugees

Actors and funding

Actors Funding
Local / regional government
Public support service providers
Local funds

Social partners

Social partners' role in designing the measure and form of involvement:

Trade unions Employers' organisations
Role No involvement as case not in social partner domain No involvement as case not in social partner domain
Form Not applicable Not applicable

Social partners' role in the implementation, monitoring and assessment phase:

  • No involvement
  • Main level of involvement: N/A


Due to the nature of the measure, social partners were not directly involved. However, employers are very satisfied with the possibility to find a new workers due to the fact that there is a huge labor force shortage in Croatia, particularly on the seasonal jobs in tourism and hospitality sector.

Views and reactions

Although social partners were not directly involved due to the nature of the measure, they are always very supportive to all activities targeted to aid refugees from Ukraine. The Economic and Social Council (ESC) on 21 March 2022, gave full support to the Government's efforts in activities related to the reception, care and integration of Ukrainian refugees into Croatian society and the labour market, and a stronger involvement of social partners at the county level was agreed.


  • 21 March 2022: Gospodarsko-socijalno vijece podrzava aktivnosti Vlade u pomoći ukrajinskin izbjeglicama (The Economic and Social Council gave full support to the Government's efforts in support of Ukrainian refugees) (
  • 21 March 2022: Škola hrvatskog jezika za ukrajinske izbjeglice (The school of Croatian language for refugees from Ukraine) (
  • 26 March 2022: Free of charge Croatian Course un Zadar (Besplatni tečajevi hrvatskog u Zadru) (
  • 04 April 2022: Croatian courses for Ukrainians in Split (Tečajevi hrvatskog za Ukrajince u Splitu) (
  • 10 June 2022: Croatian language courses for refugees in Buzet (Tečajevi hrvatskog jezika za izbjeglice) (
  • 27 July 2022: Textbooks and workbooks for learning the Croatian language were provided for Ukrainian refugees in Velika Gorica (Knjige i radne bilježnice osigurane za ukrajinske izbjeglice u Velikoj Gorici). (
  • 21 October 2022: Pomoc u ucenju jezika, trazenju posla i integraciji (Aid to refugees in learning language, finding a job and integration) (
  • 24 February 2023: The language is the obstacle for employment (Jezik prepreka za zapošljavanje (


Eurofound (2022), Free Croatian language courses for Ukrainian refugees, measure HR-2022-13/2746 (measures in Croatia), EU PolicyWatch, Dublin,


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Disclaimer: This information has not been subject to the full Eurofound evaluation, editorial and publication process.