Most refugee families 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 to employment. Therefore good quality ESOL is the most important element of support. ESOL should be offered intensively 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 job search is needed. Need to check this in light of universal credit.
- Some arrivals will be depressed by their circumstances, the loss of their former lives and an almost inevitable loss of status.
- Many refugees may initially have unrealistic ideas about finding employment.
- Many refugees have been in some form of self-employment. Of course, there may be more bureaucracy around self-employment here in the UK but this route provides a good opportunity for financial independence especially when appropriate support is provided.
- Refugees 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 work opportunities but support workers should be aware of those that do not meet minimum UK wage standards.
- Use NARIC for professionally and technically qualified individuals as this organisation can provide evidence of past r qualifications that can make a big difference when apply for work in the UK.
- Employment mentors from relevant fields can be hugely beneficial to anyone with specific skills, but ne mindful that some individuals may not be able to move on until their English improves.