Qualified professionals from Ukraine
If you have qualified in your profession in Ukraine, then there may be certain steps that you need to take in order to practise your profession in the UK.
Almost certainly, these will include demonstrating a pre-requisite level of English according to recognised standards such as IELTS: https://www.ielts.org/about-ielts/what-is-ielts or OET (for healthcare professionals): https://www.occupationalenglishtest.org/
In order to be able to work here, you may need to take professional exams and register with regulatory bodies, which will cost money. Various refugee support organisations and charities may be able to help with funding these.
Note that there can be several organisations relevant to a particular profession, for example there may be a regulatory body that is responsible for setting the standards and maintaining a register of qualified professionals, and another organisation which represents the ‘trade union’ or professional body, providing assistance and support to professionals, usually for a membership fee.
Such organisations may have initiatives or events that are relevant for refugees, such as job fairs, so it is worth looking at their websites regularly.
Below, we give a very high level overview of some common professions and the relevant professional bodies. We are not experts across every single profession, so this information is provided only in order to signpost you. Further information is available from their websites or by contacting them, or doing your own research.
A full list of regulated professions (i.e. those where it is a legal requirement to have specific qualifications or experience before you can do certain professional activities or use a specific job title) and their regulatory bodies is given on this Government web page: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/professions-regulated-by-law-in-the-uk-and-their-regulators/uk-regulated-professions-and-their-regulators.
The UK Centre for Professional Qualifications (UK CPQ) can provide guidance on how to navigate the process for finding the appropriate regulatory body and getting your qualifications assessed for equivalence. For individuals coming to the UK, the relevant page is: https://cpq.ecctis.com/individuals/inbound/
Comparing your qualifications to the UK equivalent
The UK body which defines how different international qualifications compare to UK qualifications is called UK ENIC (National Information Centre). Visit their website at https://www.enic.org.uk/ to see the services offered. You can pay a fee of £49.50 + VAT to get a Statement of Comparibility of your qualifications, which may be useful to show to employers or professional bodies.
The regulatory body is the General Medical Council (GMC), and the corresponding association for professionals is the British Medical Association (BMA). You will need to be registered and have a licence to practise with the GMC in order to work as a doctor in the UK, whether this is in a general practice or in a hospital.
You can check if your medical degree is from a recognised institution by visiting the World Directory of Medical Schools: https://www.wdoms.org/. However, the GMC will only decide if your degree is acceptable when you actually apply to register. Although they cannot go into details about specific degrees and whether you can transfer courses if you are midway through a course, as this is not the area they deal with, you can ring them for advice and information.
The British Medical Assocation is the supporting professional body for doctors. They have provided this webpage which summarises the steps required by the GMC to be licensed to practise as a doctor in the UK: https://www.bma.org.uk/advice-and-support/international-doctors/getting-a-job-in-the-uk/help-for-refugee-doctors. Basically, the steps are:
- Get the relevant IELTS qualification
- Pass the PLAB Tests (which test your ability to apply your knowledge to the care of patients)
- Do a clinical attachment
Once you have passed all three stages, you can apply for your licence to practise from the GMC and then apply for jobs as a doctor in the UK.
To help doctors who have arrived as refugees, the BMA have also launched the BMA Refugee Doctors Initiative (the link to download an application form to join the initiative is also given on the page mentioned above). The initiative provides access to BMA resources and support in understanding the process required to practise in the UK.
Getting through the required stages can be expensive. Financial support may be available from charities associated with the BMA (see https://bmacharities.org.uk/support-for-doctors/).
- General Medical Council: 0161 923 6602
- British Medical Association: 0300 123 1233 (select the ‘membership’ option) or firstname.lastname@example.org
- BMA Charities Trust Fund: email@example.com
Further information is also available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-in-healthcare-in-the-uk-homes-for-ukraine.
The regulatory body for dentists and dental care professionals such as dental nurses is the General Dental Council (GDC), and the corresponding association for professionals is the British Dental Association (BDA). You need to be registered with the GDC in order to practise in the UK.
The GDC has information for refugee dental professionals here: Information for refugee dental professionals (gdc-uk.org). On this page, you can find a link to a questionnaire which will help you determine the route to registration depending on whether you are a dentist or a dental care professional: https://www.egdc-uk.org/Application/RouteToRegistration. Ukraine is not on the (very short) list of automatically recognised countries for dentists so the route will involve the Overseas Registration Exam. You need to apply to see if you are eligible to take the exam, and evidence of clinical experience and the relevant IELTS qualification will be needed.
There is no exam for dental care professionals but the relevant IELTS qualification is still needed. Your application is then assessed, which can take several months.
The British Dental Association is offering free membership to refugees. Membership will provide access to some dental resources such as books (which can be sent by post), information and advice sheets, journals, newsletters, continuing professional development courses online and in person, contact with colleagues through local groups of dentists, and a mental health support service if needed.
- General Dental Council: 020 7167 6000
- British Dental Association: 020 7935 0875 (Head Office) or firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership enquiries: email@example.com.
The page https://www.gdc-uk.org/registration/join-the-register/information-for-refugee-dental-professionals also has links to organisations that can help refugees, such as Dental Mentors: https://www.dentalmentorsuk.com/index.php.
Further information is also available at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-in-healthcare-in-the-uk-homes-for-ukraine.
Refugee Council support for health professionals
The Refugee Council have partnered with the NHS to create the ‘Building Bridges’ programme to support health professionals in qualifying to practise in the UK: https://refugeecouncil.org.uk/get-support/services/refugee-health-professionals-building-bridges-programme/
You can access this service if you:
- Are a qualified refugee health professional who would like to practise in the UK
- Have the right to work in the UK (refugees, refugee spouses, former refugees who gained British citizenship) and asylum seekers with permission to work
- Live in London
Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org or 02073461047.
Other options for health professionals
If you want to work in healthcare but not yet at the level of your qualifications, there are other opportunities in the NHS that you could consider. See here for more information.
In the UK, qualified lawyers can be either solicitors or barristers, but other countries may not distinguish these roles, or have these titles.
The professional body supporting solicitors in England and Wales is the Law Society. They have created a webpage describing the options available to Ukrainian lawyers and law firms in the UK: https://www.lawsociety.org.uk/campaigns/international-rule-of-law/news/support-for-ukrainian-lawyers-and-firms-in-england-and-wales. Basically, you are able to practise law in the UK according to your professional title in Ukraine, with some exceptions around what you can do. This page also explains what you need to do in order to achieve the recognised qualification of ‘solicitor’ in England and Wales, according to the regulatory body for solicitors, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
The Law Society also holds regular career clinics which you can book a place on, and advertises job vacancies (details also given on the page mentioned above). Email email@example.com to book your place.
They recorded a webinar in November 2022 covering how to transition into a law career in the UK for Ukrainian lawyers. You will need to register to access the viewing.
For solicitors in England and Wales, the regulatory body is the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). If you already have a law qualification, this page describes how you can beome a solicitor here: https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/qualified-lawyers/. Essentially, there are qualifying exams called SQE1 and SQE2. Some jurisdictions’ qualifications have been assessed to see if they are eligible for an exemption. At this moment, it would seem that Ukraine is not one of the jurisdictions assessed (see https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/qualified-lawyers/sqe-exemptions/). However, depending on your experience, you may still be eligible for exemptions from these exams. The topics that the exams cover are given on this page: https://sqe.sra.org.uk/about-sqe/what-is-the-sqe/assessment-topics. If you believe your qualifications cover some of these topics, you can apply for an exemption at this page: https://www.sra.org.uk/become-solicitor/qualified-lawyers/individual-sqe-assessment-exemption/#sqe1 but this is quite a detailed and lengthy process. The SRA suggest emailing firstname.lastname@example.org in the first place to get more information on how to proceed in your particular circumstances.
- Solicitors Regulation Authority (England and Wales): 0370 606 2555 or email@example.com
- Law Society (England and Wales): firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For information about Law Society career clinics, contact email@example.com
Law Society Jobs Fair (September 2022)
The Law Society recently held a jobs fair specifically for Ukrainian refugees where a number of organisations were present. Some contact details are provided below:
Law-related firms that are hiring (either law firms, recruitment firms or law-related products and services):
- Blue Pencil Legal Recruitment: Mark Hazleton – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Flex Legal: Kate Gaskell kate.Gaskell@f-lex.co.uk and Zaia Ndokera – email@example.com
- Eversheds Sutherland: Kelly Brown – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Slaughter and May: Jonathan Clarke – email@example.com
- Dentons: Ben Daniels, Sophie Lynch, Jackie Hanlon – firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cleveland & Co: David Balchin – email@example.com
- Lexis Nexis: James Harper – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Obelisk Support: Laura Vosper – email@example.com
- Elevate: Paul Shephard – firstname.lastname@example.org
Corporate firms with law departments that are hiring:
The organisation CARA (Council for At-Risk Academics) has some details for academics fleeing the invasion: https://www.cara.ngo/what-we-do/a-lifeline-to-academics-at-risk/ukraine-crisis/
They work in partnership with the British Academy, who are offering funded fellowships through their Researchers At Risk Fellowships programme. See https://www.thebritishacademy.ac.uk/funding/researchers-at-risk-fellowships/ for more details.