What Is The Refugee Employability Programme?

Written by Richard O'Connor
Last updated June 3, 2024

Refugees are people who have been “forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution or natural disaster.” They come to the UK in the hopes of finding a better life for themselves and their families. To help them along, the government has launched the Refugee Employability Programme, designed to support refugees and help them settle into their new communities in England.

In today’s blog, we learn all about the REP (Refugee Employability Programme), including who can apply and how to go about it. If you’re a refugee looking for work, we’ll also share some key information on where you can find work with inclusive employers.

For employers, we’ll also discuss vital ways you can support refugees who come to the UK looking to make a living.

About the Refugee Employability Programme

The Refugee Employability Programme (REP) is a UK government initiative designed to support refugees in finding work and integrating into English society. It’s specifically aimed at helping those who arrived through certain resettlement programmes or were granted refugee status. 

In 2023, 62,336 people were granted refugee status which is the highest number of people granted since 1984 when records began. This is mainly due to the high number of Ukrainian refugees who were resettled here.

The programme offers various services to address the unique challenges refugees face in the job market, including:

  • Skills training: This can involve improving English language proficiency, job-specific skills development, and career guidance.
  • Support with job search: Refugees might get help with CV writing, interview preparation, and navigating the application process.
  • Work experience opportunities: The programme may connect refugees with placements to gain practical experience in your field.

Overall, REP aims to equip refugees with the tools and resources they need to secure meaningful employment and build a successful life in England.

Who Can Apply

To be eligible for the Refugee Employability Programme in England, you must meet several criteria:


You must be 18 years old or older and younger than the state pension age (currently 66).


You cannot already be in full-time education or employment.

Actively Seeking Work

You should be actively searching for a job.


You must not have a health condition or disability that prevents you from working.

Immigration Status

Your arrival in the UK must have been through a specific programme or route, such as

  • UK Resettlement Scheme
  • Afghan Citizen Resettlement Scheme
  • Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP)
  • Granted refugee permission to stay on or after June 28th, 2022
  • Arrived on or after February 25th, 2021 through
    • Mandate Resettlement Scheme
    • Community Sponsorship Scheme
  • Arrived on the Refugee Family Reunion scheme with an eligible sponsoring refugee

For the most up-to-date information and refugees looking for integration support in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we recommend checking the official UK government website.

How Employers Can Support Migrant Workers in the UK

Once refugees have received protection status, they’re eligible to work in the UK at any skill level. This opens up an untapped resource for employers who are looking for skilled workers to join their workforce. It’s also a great way to help close the skills gap which is currently affecting employers in the UK.

Here are some ways employers can support migrant workers so that both parties benefit mutually:

Equal access

Migrant workers deserve fair opportunities to succeed professionally. Employers can facilitate this by ensuring they follow inclusive recruitment practices and address language barriers with training or interpreters.

Protecting rights

Once an employee receives clearance to work in the UK, there should be no differences in how employers treat or pay them. Therefore, having verified their work authorisation, employers must ensure all workers receive minimum wage and benefits according to UK law. 

If it’s believed that a migrant worker is being exploited or discriminated against, these are some great sources of support you can share with your entire staff:

Remember, while you may have fair practices in your workplace, it doesn’t mean that discrimination and exploitation aren’t happening in other areas of their lives, including housing.

Positive and inclusive work environment

As an employer, you’re responsible for creating a safe and inclusive space through anti-discrimination policies, cultural awareness training, and open communication channels. This is the only way refugees can thrive in a work environment that will be so new to them. 

Everyone deserves to work in a safe and welcoming company, and it’s on all of us to do our best to make that happen.

Bonus reading: How Employers Can Support Migrant Workers in the UK 👉

Finding Work With The Refugee Employment Programme

For refugees who have gone through the REP and are looking for Refugee Employment Programme jobs, you’ll be happy to know that there are many employment options out there. The key is finding employers who offer equal opportunities to their candidates and staff.

Here at Aspiring to Include, we only work with inclusive employers and aim to connect them with diverse job seekers. 

From homeless job seekers and ex-offenders to refugee candidates and parents returning to work, we believe in the power of equality, diversity and inclusion. So, if you have the right to work in the UK and want to reach your full potential, we want to remove any obstacles that stand in your way.

Check out our inclusive jobs board for all the latest Refugee Employment Programme jobs in your area. Our Job Seekers Support Hub is packed with advice and guidance on your rights, career opportunities and training and education support.

Are you an employer? Make the most of our resources and support for employers to discover everything you need to know about becoming diversity-positive. Check out the services we offer employers and how you can use our inclusive job board to connect with diverse job seekers from across the UK.

Anything else you need? Get in touch with our team – we’re looking forward to hearing from you.

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Last Updated: Monday May 13 2024
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