An open letter to Lord Rooker

Personnel Today has written to the immigration
minister Lord Rooker to seek a response to its "Refugees in
Employment" campaign aimed at making it easier for employers to take on
refugees and asylum-seekers.

Dear Lord Rooker,

I am writing to you to ask you to
respond to a campaign launched this week in Personnel Today magazine
called "Refugees in Employment". The aim of the campaign is to
support employers who wish to employ asylum seekers or refugees who are
entitled to work in the UK but who are experiencing difficulty because of red
tape or other obstacles.

Personnel Today has been conducting a debate on
asylum and employment since May this year. We believe that refugees offer a
potential solution to the skills crisis which is facing many professions and
industry sectors in the UK and which is likely to intensify over the coming
decades. Our objective is to gain a commitment from the Government to act to
remove the barriers preventing refugees from becoming economically active, which
we believe is the central issue in the debate on immigration.

We have now launched a formal
campaign and request an interview with you and a response from the Government
to the four campaign goals below.

· A permission-to-work standard
document for refugees and asylum seekers:
The Government should make a commitment to
produce a standard permission-to-work document for refugees and asylum seekers
who are entitled to work in the UK. This should be supported by advice to
employers and government agencies that they must recognise the document, and
that they will not face legal action if they employ an individual with the
document. More should be done to make employers aware of the information on the
Home Office website, and ministers should consider setting up a telephone
helpline.

· A commitment to reduce red tape for
employers who want to recruit refugees or asylum seekers:
The Government should commit itself
to reducing red tape and the barriers preventing refugees who are entitled to
work from gaining employment.

· A commitment to develop a skills
data-base of refugees and asylum seekers:
The Government should formally commit itself
to developing a strategy to monitor the skills and work experience of all
immigrants to the UK. This should include developing a skills data-base of
asylum seekers and refugees, and a policy to begin collecting such data as soon
as immigrants arrive in the UK.  

· Specific plans to co-ordinate the
employment of refugees and asylum seekers:
The commitment in the Labour Party manifesto
to integrate refugees is welcomed, but should be followed by specific plans to
co-ordinate the employment of refugees from the time that they enter the UK,
rather than from the point that they attain refugee status and permission to
work.

I look forward to your
response to this open letter which will be published in Personnel Today on 10
July 2001.

Yours sincerely,

Noel
O’Reilly
Editor
, Personnel
Today  

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