A considerable number of migrants and refugees experience employment issues every year, according to The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

Whether you are struggling to have your qualifications recognised or could not complete your education in your home country, several factors must be considered to better understand working environments and systems in the United Kingdom.  

The issues migrants and refugees may face when looking for work in the UK

Language

For those who did not learn English as their first language, the language barrier can sometimes be an obstacle in the matter of seeking employment. Migrants and refugees who are less confident with their English skills can find it significantly harder to obtain a job in the UK. 

Employment gaps

Due to prolonged unemployment periods caused by the UK’s asylum process, many refugees struggle to secure a job. Such employment gaps are not often seen as a positive element in CVs.  

Lack of professional experience

Migrants and refugees who recently moved to the UK, and do not have any previous work experience in their new host country, may face additional barriers when applying for a job. 

Lack of personal or professional references in the UK

Social and professional relationships might be limited for newly arrived migrants and refugees. Connections represent one of the most powerful tools that employers can use to choose a particular candidate over another effectively. Lacking references is often a contributing factor to not being selected during an interview process. 

Incapacity to meet requirements in the job market.

On many occasions, refugees are unable to prove the qualifications they hold from their native countries because they cannot obtain duplicates of any required paperwork. In other situations, they are not aware of how to transfer existing skills to new job roles. In some cases, migrants and refugees do not know about UK’s recruitment procedures, which makes them vulnerable job candidates.  

Social discrimination

Diversity misunderstandings might lead to negative stereotyping and, in the worst cases, to racism.  

What skills are relevant to find my first job in the UK?

In most cases, refugees and migrants have limited local language when they move into their host country. Research has shown that on average only 24% of recently arrived refugees across Europe can speak the local language proficiently. 

This can be a substantial barrier to overcome. Migrants and refugees possess skills that vary hugely. Some have transferable competencies, like cooking, others might have nation-related skills, such as being a lawyer or secretary.  

If you do not speak the local language in a proficient manner, one way to get into employment quickly is to identify which jobs do not require language expertise. Examples can vary, from cleaning and farming to computer programming. 

What can I do to improve my chances of finding a job in the UK?

There are a variety of aspects to consider when looking for a job in a new country. It is paramount to be aware of the conditions of the right to work in the UK. 

  • Familiarise with the administrative framework in the UK and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding to any potential employer.  
  • If you hold any qualifications or other relevant documents, have these translated into English. 
  • Try and identify opportunities to have any informal skill certified.  
  • You should also seek to convert your national driving license if you have one. If you do not, try and obtain one through testing. 
  • Prepare your CV in English. If language is a barrier, there are a few services that can support you. 
  • Where applicable, ask for reference letters from caseworkers and previous employers.  
Migrants and Refugees
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