Cutting red tape is key to getting refugees to work

The Government must invest in reorganisation, slash red tape and overhaul
training in the public sector if a new strategy on refugee employment is to
succeed, according to the Employability Forum (EF).

The Department of Work and Pensions is preparing to release its first major
refugee employment strategy, Working to Rebuild Lives, this April. This will
require the involvement of the job centre network, employers, further education
colleges and voluntary organisations.

But the EF, which promotes the skills and experience of refugees in the UK,
fears it will not have the necessary impact if crackdowns on illegal working
continue to outweigh the practical steps to get refugees into employment.

Jonathan Duke-Evans, head of the social policy unit at the Home Office
Immigration and Nationality Directorate, agreed the department concentrated too
much on the change from immigrant to refugee status and needed to start
"getting on with it".

Patrick Wintour, director of the EF, said staff working for public bodies
would require continual training to help refugees.

"If the Department of Work and Pensions plans to implement this
strategy, then job centres need to be involved," he said. "But staff
turnover is very high, so how can you train staff to be aware of issues facing
refugees?"

Wintour said refugees required a "bewildering range of documentary
evidence" to make it clear that permission to work has been granted. He
said this should be replaced by a simple, robust document to prove refugees are
legal workers.

Personnel Today has been campaigning for a coherent refugee strategy for the
past two years.

By Michael Millar

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