European countries have not fully seized on the opportunity to plug workforce gaps presented by the arrival of millions of Ukrainian refugees, even though many of those fleeing the war are highly educated or have desperately needed skills.

The flood of people over the border following Russia's February 2022 invasion should have been a boon for countries in the European Union's east, where acute labor shortages have long dragged on economic growth and fueled inflation.

But obstacles ranging from lack of child care facilities to reluctance to recognize non-European academic and vocational qualifications has left vacancies unfilled and the new arrivals — mostly female — frustrated. Many are stuck in jobs below their skill and education levels and without the longer-term career prospects they are seeking.