Firm beats skills shortage with new refugee recruits

A Shropshire plant hire firm is recruiting refugees in an effort to combat
skills shortages.

Hawk Plant Hire, which provides heavy machinery and operators across the
country, is training refugees as dump-truck drivers to combat high staff
turnover and problems with recruitment.

Dan Evans, operations recruitment executive for Hawk, said four refugees
started work at the company this month following a two-week training programme.
A further eight are due to start soon.

The recruits are from various countries, mainly Iran, but also Russia,
Albania and Somalia.

"They are paid well, which helps to retain them. They are also provided
with transport – a scooter or van," said Evans.

"If we can attract and train refugees, we are more likely to keep

Evans said the company, which employs 200 drivers, had initially faced
problems recruiting refugees because not enough is done to get them employment.

Hawk turned to freelance consultant Simon Coates to find out how to access
refugee recruits.

Coates said there needs to be a more cohesive approach to help refugees into
work. "Employers often have to work quite hard to find refugee
workers," he said.

Both Coates and Evans backed Personnel Today’s Refugees in Employment
campaign calling for a national refugee skills database and for the Government
to make it simpler to recruit refugees.

Coates believes many employers miss out on recruiting good quality refugee
workers because companies are concerned they might have difficulty getting
settled and have immediate money problems.

By Quentin Reade

Progress so far in the campaign

Personnel Today has been campaigning over the past year for the Government
to introduce a co-ordinated strategy to get asylum-seekers and refugees – who
are often highly-skilled – into employment.

Many organisations – from hospitals to blue-chip IT giants – still face
skills shortages, despite the economic downturn. Joint research by Personnel
Today and the Refugee Council showed that 60 per cent of refugees are
unemployed for more than a year.

Former immigration minister Lord Rooker promised that a skills database
would be introduced to keep a record of the skills and qualifications of
asylum-seekers, and enable the Employment Service to match refugees to
appropriate work (News, 8 January).

A Government spokesperson said an integration strategy, which will include
employment measures, will be released later this year. Personnel Today is
continuing to campaign for the benefit of employers and refugees.

The campaign aims:

– Introduce a standard permission-to-work document for refugees

– A commitment to cutting red tape for employers who want to recruit refugees

– Introduce a skills database for refugees and employers

– Produce concrete plans to co-ordinate the employment of refugees

Comments are closed.