The skills and attributes of refugees represent the significant economic potential for receiving countries. However, well-planned and coordinated efforts by a range of businesses and organisations are required for this to be fully realised.
Evaluating policies and procedures in the workplace can help employers to identify innovative approaches and tackle prejudice by providing evidence of the challenges refugees might face, and the contributions they can make to society.
According to research from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), there are currently more than 65 million people who forcibly left their countries. Despite employers making considerable efforts to connect with, support and integrate refugees in their workplace, businesses and organisations might still face challenges and miss opportunities to employ valuable talents.
For this reason, we have put together a helpful guide for employers who are seeking to harness the refugee talent pool and promote inclusivity in the workplace.
Identifying and verifying refugees skills
Refugees might have diverse socio-economic backgrounds. For instance, some may have completed education and worked as doctors, engineers, researchers before leaving their home country. Some may have entrepreneurial or managerial skills from previous occupations. Others may have not completed education yet or have only a few years of schooling. The diversity of refugees’ professional profiles can present both challenges and opportunities, which is why identifying the skills that a refugee already possesses upon their arrival is vital.
As an employer, you could implement a skill assessment tool that gives you the opportunity to evaluate refugees’ skills. You could consider factors like formal qualifications, previous professional experience, soft skills and level of motivation.
An online skill assessment tool can also support refugees in identifying areas of improvement and qualification gaps.
Another great way to identify and verify refugees’ skills is to provide them with opportunities to demonstrate their abilities. For instance, you could invite candidates into the workplace for a trial and ask them to provide a testimonial or character reference from a social worker, sponsor or mentor. However, you should bear in mind that some refugees might not be able to provide certain background information or documents.
Developing refugees’ skills and job-readiness
Language is one of the most essential host country-specific skills that refugees need support to develop. It is important that employers provide opportunities to improve language skills and consider refugee diversity with respect to specific needs and characteristics, such as women, single or widowed parents, socioeconomic backgrounds, and many others. It is crucial that employers support their staff at every level of literacy and supplement this with vocation-specific language training. Research indicates that such training plays a considerable role in refugees’ lives, especially when provided in the workplace. Moreover, employers can offer professional training programmes, such as internships, apprenticeships and on-the-job training for those with previous professional experience who might need to develop awareness on host country-specific practices, including regulations, using certain equipment safely, and organisation of the working day.
Matching refugees’ skills to specific job roles
Employers should have ready access to potential refugee employees’ profiles and skillsets in order to make contact with the talent pool of refugees. Job fairs are a fantastic way to achieve this. They can be a helpful tool to bridge the information gap that often separates candidates from job opportunities. It is essential for employers to work in partnership with organisations and charities that support refugees and asylum-seekers. Additionally, private employment services can also play a role in identifying and maximising job opportunities for refugees.
Here is a list of organisations that can provide a wealth of information and support for employers and managers:
Employers should take several factors into account when planning to employ a refugee. You can learn more about the issues that refugees might face when looking for work in the UK on our website’s dedicated page.