Promoting the economic inclusion of refugees
Our members know too many refugees remain unemployed or they become underemployed in low paid insecure jobs that don’t match the skills, qualifications, experiences and ambition they bring with them to the UK. Here are some examples of how our collective voice is contributing to change.
Promoting transfer of refugees’ prior skills, qualifications and experience
Through our ‘Skilled’ project, members spoke up about the barriers they faced in using their skills and continuing their careers in the UK.
“When I was a teenager I wanted to be an engineer, like my father. I studied hard. Since I remember I have had a book in my hand. I think studying is part of my body. All my friends and families of my age were going to parties, but I always stayed at home to study because I was looking for a bright future. Finally, I was accepted at one of the best universities in our country to do civil engineering. My father was so pleased with me. At university I tried really hard. I was one of the best students on my course. After that we set up a family business, with my father and my brother. As designers we had to pay careful attention to how a building is constructed, as our country is located in an earthquake zone. When I came here I said to myself ‘working in a pizza shop, like others do, is not for you. But after a year I said, no you may have to. It would mean a lot to me if I could start working in an engineering office here, to live the life I used to live. Looking at my life now, its torture. But I tried”
You can read more testimonies from our members here
Panganai used his photography skills to create a travelling exhibition of photographs and oral testimony from across our membership, highlighting the frustrated efforts, painful experience and crushed hopes of refugees who bring skills, experience and qualifications with them.
We presented findings to the TUC, DWP and many other employment and employability focused agencies and advocated for practical actions needed to remove barriers to skills transfer.
Promoting pathways to business start up
Our action research project, ‘Missing Link’, investigated how to remove barriers that prevent women refugees from realising their entrepreneurial potential and ambitions.
A business woman is….
Leading multi-agency collaborative working to identify and develop new models
We championed the creation of a Move on & Economic Inclusion subgroup within the North East Migration Partnership’s stakeholder structure. And we’ve Chaired it since it began.
It’s allowed us to collaborate with key employability, employment an careers agencies across all sectors to identify improvements in front line practice and promote development of sector skills specific pilots. For example:
- we worked with the DWP to design a ‘Customer Support and Progress Checklist’ for Work Coaches to guide them into career focused support
- we researched the experiences of member wanting to return to or enter the construction industry and then co-ordinated the regional task group focused on developing a Sector Based Work Academy for refugees. This lead to the first ESOL for Construction course linked to Gateway to Construction training. More sector specific training is now being developed
Understanding how poverty impacts refugee families
Our members worked with the North East Child Poverty Commission to explore the role of local services in tackling child poverty amongst refugees and asylum seekers. They helped evidence the issue of poverty amongst individuals once they have been granted leave to remain, which had not received much attention from researchers or policy makers.
Partnering research on low pay
We contribute evidence to research that matches our priorities. For example, we partnered research to provide evidence on unemployment and underemployment amongst refugees.
Click here to see the report