Most families who arrive under the programme will include someone who is fit and of working age. Employment is of huge benefit towards social as well as economic integration but there are significant barriers. Acquiring or improving English and managing expectations will be the first concerns for support workers.
Once people have acquired some language, practice through conversation with a befriender and mentoring from someone with experience in an appropriate employment sector will enhance progress.
- Language is the biggest barrier. Therefore good quality ESOL is the most important element of support – make it intense if resources are available.
- Supplement ESOL with conversational opportunities and befriending.
- Refugees can claim IS instead of JSA if they are learning English for 15 hours per week or more: therefore no jobsearch is needed.
- Some arrivals will be depressed by their circumstances, the loss of their former lives and an almost inevitable loss of status.
- Many will initially have unrealistic ideas about finding employment.
- Many will have been in some form of self employment and this will hold no fears. Of course, there may be more bureaucracy around it here in the UK as well as providing a good opportunity for independence / self-sufficiency.
- Arrivals may have no experience of formal western recruitment methods. Although the Jobcentre will give some briefings checking out their understanding and planning consequent action is an obvious focus for support workers.
- Informal recruitment methods within existing middle eastern communities may offer good opportunities BUT beware illegal wages.
- Use NARIC for professionally and technically qualified to get evidence of their qualifications as they apply in the UK.
- Employment mentors from relevant fields can be hugely beneficial to anyone with specific skills. But they may not be able to move on until their English improves.