Supporting refugees into work

The last eight years have seen a huge rise in the number of people forced to flee their homes and seek safety elsewhere. Over 60 million people are now forcibly displaced. Although the vast majority are still in their own countries, or those surrounding them, some make their way to Britain in the hope of finding sanctuary, and some arrive in Bradford, ready to start their new life. Bradford has a rich history of immigration going back over 150 years which has enriched the city and local business. The welcoming nature of the city and the amenities that are there, set up to deal with cultural and dietary needs create the perfect place for people to settle. They don’t feel as much of an outsider here; they feel welcome and a part of the city.

The Working English project at Refugee Action supports those who have the right to work to get into employment or try volunteering. Despite the fact that refugees so often arrive with an abundance of skills and talent, only half manage to gain employment. (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/mar/11/give-them-a-chance-employing-refugees-not-as-complicated-as-many-think?fbclid=IwAR3S-vMmDKZqKCEbLfzfMzMbx7IVRf0NnPa_qVp_H74g-vDndA0O6KmNL_U), they have an employment level of only 52% compared to 75% in general (https://www.wonderfoundation.org.uk/blog/road-refugee-integration-employment-challenge).

There are many reasons for this -this is not a homogenous group. Issues like language, understanding the UK job market (it is quite tricky when you look at it!) and a lack of certificates or equivalent qualifications often hold them back. The Working English project is here to try and remove those barriers through a bespoke employability course, with an emphasis on the English language used, mentoring and guidance in how to navigate the job market in the UK.
You may be sat there now thinking “what has this got to do with me?” or “what can I do to help?” so to help I’ve created a list of options below. Not all will apply to your business but I think many will and do feel free to talk to me about any other ideas you may have, you know your businesses.

1. When you advertise a role, or decide you need a new member of staff, have a good look a what language capacity they really need for the role. Could some jobs be given to people who understand the instructions, but not make conversation?
2. Is your application form too complicated for lower level jobs, do you need all that information, or is there too much clutter? Making it simpler could make it easier for someone with lower level of English to apply and give them more confidence in the process.
3. Could you offer work placements or experience for refugee job seekers? Even work trials, letting them prove what they can do not what they can tell you.
4. Could you volunteer with refugees to support people and pass on your expertise? We could really use volunteer mentors to help people look for work, design their career path, apply for work or even start a business. We need volunteers from all walks of life, abilities and backgrounds. We can even look at a corporate volunteering scheme with you and your team.
5. Finally, you could join us on the 21st August at St Peter’s house for the first ever Refuges Jobs Fair – especially if you have roles that don’t require high levels of English.

We are also looking for accountants that might support clients in the gig economy, with basic tax services or workshops on being self-employed. This is a growing area of employment, but can be a minefield for anyone, let alone someone with lower levels or English and knowledge of British bureaucracy!

If you want to help us with the project, please contact Ruth Gray on RuthG@refugee-action.org.uk or ring me on 07702 906948. You can register for the jobs fair at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/refugee-action-and-skillshouse-bradford-council-19695545445

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