Refugees in employment

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. What steps can you take to make the most of the skills of asylum-seekers whohave permission to work here? Patrick Wintour of the Employability Forum givesa guideEmployers are still struggling to fill vacancies in their organisations andcan make much better use of the largely untapped skills and experiences thatrefugees in this country can offer. The Employability Forum was established last year to promote the employmentof refugees and asylum-seekers with permission to work in the UK. The forum issupported by voluntary and refugee organisations and by the Home Office,Department for Work & Pensions and by local authorities. We fully supportthe Personnel Today campaign on refugees and employment. This article sets out some of the practical steps which employers can taketo make much more effective use of the skills of refugees and asylum-seekerswho have permission from the Home Office to work in the UK. The Employability Forum is launching a pilot project later this month aimedat refugees who have professional qualifications and work experience outsidethe UK – nearly a third of refugees have been educated to university level. The project Pathway aims to prepare job-seekers for the world of work andwill enable 50 individuals to secure appropriate employment. Effective linkswith employers will be the key to success – we want to work with a range oforganisations in the business community, local government and the voluntarysector. Here are five practical steps employers can take: 1. Develop links with voluntary agencies working with refugees There is a network of voluntary organisations such as the Refugee Counciland Refugees into Jobs, which provide advice and guidance for those who arelooking for training and employment. These organisations welcome links withemployers and can play a valuable role in making connections in the labourmarket. 2. Review recruitment policies and practice Newcomers to the UK must compete in a labour market which is often quitedifferent from their country of origin. Many candidates have never experienceda formal job interview before and require considerable training andpreparation. Refugees arrive without documentary evidence of previous education andexperience and have to construct a new foundation for their life at work. It isdifficult to get a job without a reference and impossible to secure a referencewhen there is nobody here who knows you well enough to write one. Employers can give support for refugees who need to gain recognition fromprofessional bodies so that refugees who are accountants, engineers orarchitects can use their experience of working elsewhere. More than 30 per cent of refugees have been educated to university level (orequivalent) and the accreditation of their prior learning and experience is animportant step on their new journey. 3. Accept Home Office documents on Permission to Work The Immigration and Nationality Department (IND) of the Home Office isresponsible for assessing asylum-seeker claims and provides the necessarydocuments for permission to work. The IND sets out the decision in a letter to the individual concerned andthose who receive Indefinite Leave to Remain or Exceptional Leave to Remain areboth permitted to work and gain access to other government-sponsored trainingprogrammes (provided they meet the relevant conditions for such schemes as NewDeal, Jobseekers Allowance etc). In the past, asylum-seekers were generally given permission to work after 6months if they had not received a decision. There is a shrinking backlog ofthose who are still waiting for decisions but who are permitted to work. Underthe new system the Home Office is committed to taking faster decisions and sothe position for new asylum seekers has become more complex. Under existing legislation employers are required to check that applicantsare legally permitted to work in the UK. Refugees and asylum-seekers who havebeen given permission to work can produce documentary evidence from the HomeOffice and should be encouraged to do so. Employability’s Pathway project will develop a portfolio for job-seekerswhich will include CVs, references, overseas qualifications validated for usein the UK, National Insurance numbers and certificates which clarify competencyin the English language. 4. Provide support and training in English Working in the UK requires a good command of the English language and thisis one of the key areas which many refugees have to address at the outset. English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) is taught in FurtherEducation Colleges and through community (adult) education programmes; there isa wide range of courses leading to different qualifications. The Government isencouraging employers to support its strategy to develop basic skills inliteracy and numeracy. Recent research by the former Department for Educationand Employment estimated that there are 3 million people living in the UK whowere born in countries where English is not the national language. Of thesemore than a million are estimated to lack the English language skills requiredto function in society and employment. Overseas doctors who wish to practise in the UK must pass exams which testboth clinical knowledge and language competence. Other professional bodies andemployers should define equally clearly the standards which are required andrecognise that the training needs of second language speakers differ from thoseof the host community. One employer in London who discovered that 80 per centof the staff were second language speakers has provided financial support forEnglish language training outside work. The Pathway project will introduce standard assessment procedures which willclarify the gap between the competence of the job-seeker and the level requiredfor the chosen career. Particular attention will be paid to accent andpronunciation since many refugees who are “fluent” require additionalsupport if they are to compete in a professional environment. 5. Work experience Refugee job-seekers have found that work experience can be an important stepon the road to secure and paid employment. The employer has an opportunity toassess the practical skills and experience of the individual and the lattergains first hand experience of the culture of the UK workplace. The Pathway project will build on the success of existing work experienceprogrammes and develop links with a range of employers who support theEmployability Forum. Patrick Wintour is director of the Employability Forum Further informationEmployability Forum and the Pathway programme, 6 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9LETel: 020-7201 9980E-mail: [email protected] Council Training & Employment Service     020-7346 into Jobs020-8908 4433Refugee Education & Training Advisory Service 020-7426 5800Home Office (Employers Information) Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. Refugees in employmentOn 2 Oct 2001 in Personnel Todaylast_img