Studies abandonment due to war and Insufficient knowledge of the Greek language, the main obstacles in finding a job, reveals a SolidarityNow survey


SolidarityNow along with the University of Glasgow conducted an Innovative Research

on Refugees

Athens, 1 November 2017

Results of the new research conducted by SolidarityNow, in collaboration with the University of Glasgow, are published today bringing important information in light relating to Syrian refugees residing in our country. According to the survey, 46% of the refugee’s state that they were forced to stop their studies due to war, 67% think that language is the main barrier to accessing the labor market, while the overwhelming majority, 61%, depends on the financial assistance provided by humanitarian organizations. These figures, SolidarityNow underlines, make it imperative to accelerate the process of integrating refugees into the Greek society aiming at their economic independence and social inclusion as well as the reclaim of human capital for the general social development.

Those are the conclusions following the completion of the first phase of the research program entitled “Building Futures: Aspirations of Syrian Youth Refugees and Host Population Responses in Lebanon, Greece and the UK“, conducted under the initiative of the University of Glasgow; the first phase was completed in July 2017. In this framework, SolidarityNow performed the relevant research in Greece, seeking a better understanding of the experiences, skills and aspirations of the young Syrian refugees hosted in the country.

Research methodology

Population sample: 500 refugees | Women (34%) & Men (66%), 18-32 years old

Time period: May – July 2017

The SolidarityNow team coordinated and interviewed refugees living in the organization’s hosting and accommodation structures, in other organizations’ structures as well as refugees living in official and unofficial camps, squats and collective structures. The survey was conducted in the Attica region, Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia, Ioannina, Evia and Tilos, aiming at the largest possible range of the population groups.

In SolidarityNow we have offered accommodation at 4,500 refugees. Throughout the survey, attitudes, skills and expectations of 500 young Syrian refugees across Greece were recorded. Today, we feel that we know the refugees a little better and we are more confident that we can help them integrate more easily in the host countries“, Georgia Papathanasiou, Compliance and Information Manager at the Solidarity Now Μonitoring, Evaluation, Accountability, Learning & Performance Quality Department, points out.

Research conclusions for Greece

The research findings mainly concern three areas: a. education/training, b. income and c. access to the labor market.

Educational level

Concerning the academic background of the respondents, the research has shown that 22% are primary school graduates, 32% are secondary education graduates, 19% are high school graduates, while 15% hold a university degree.

As a result of the warfare, 46% quit studying, whereas 70% of the respondents do not have any documentation to prove their education level, making it difficult for them to enter the labor market quickly.


Out of all the respondents, just 55% pay the house rent based on their own resources, 6% depend on the help by friends and relatives, 1% have income from work and 9% are supported by direct remittance. As a consequence, there is a bigger dependence on financial aid provided by humanitarian organizations (61%).

Access to the labor market

In the relative question, for the 67% of the respondents, language is identified as the main obstacle to access the labor market, while 16% think that the problems they face are related to their refugee status itself. This is apparent in the 53% of the respondents who state themselves unemployed, whereas only 6% stated unemployed in their country of origin. The most popular areas of employment among the participants are tourism, food, construction and agricultural sector, which show proportionally the employment sectors of the participants in Syria.

SolidarityNow responds to the refugees’ needs

Based on those research results, SolidarityNow pushes forward in terms of educational and language (Greek, English and French) learning programs for the refugees.

At the same time, SolidarityNow extends its career, training and labor market guidance and programs in both its Solidarity Centers in Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as in the Blue Refugee Center in Thessaloniki that also targets refugees.

Scientific research was made possible with the support of the following NGOs: Praksis, Caritas, Wellcommon, Doctors of the World, Oxfam, Arsis, Society for the Care of Minors, Melissa, HabibiWorks; SolidarityNow warmly thanks all of them.


The research findings are currently in the elaboration phase by the University’s academic team (Dimitris Skleparis – Scientific Advisor, Giorgos Kariotis – Associate Professor of International Relations), combining the data derived from the three countries. The research activities will be further assisted by awareness and sensitization actions which will be completed in March 2018.

The long-term objective of this study is to allow us to formulate policy recommendations to meet the training and skills needs of young refugees and migrants, with a view to facilitating either reintegration in Syria or integration in their host nations. It will also give guidance on how such policy can be framed and advocated so as to build consensus and cross community understanding in a context of strained public resources and anti-immigration sentiment.

* The program is funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF)