Frustration as firms refuse refugees without NI codes

Employers are turning away skilled refugees who are entitled to work in the
UK because of delays in providing them with National Insurance numbers.

A consultant who works with the hundreds of Kurdish and Turkish refugees in
Haringey, North London, who are seeking employment has spoken out against the
bureaucracy that prevents them from getting jobs.

Reed in Partnership consultant Hakan Iscan tries to place civil engineers,
community nurses, translators and people with driving, retail and catering
skills in the workplace. All of these skills are in demand by organisations.

"About 20 per cent of the people I’m currently working with have no
National Insurance number, although they have permission to work," he told
Personnel Today.

"The problem is likely to grow as a knock-on effect of the voucher
system, which means asylum-seekers are no longer given a National Insurance
number when they enter the country."

The programme Iscan works on is called Action Teams – part of the Reed
recruitment company’s Reed in Partnership scheme, which was set up to run
welfare-to-work programmes contracted out to the private sector by the
Government.

It assists only those refugees who have a work permit. The team has dealt
with 350 refugees since it started a year ago.

Iscan said, "The problem comes when we put them forward for interviews
because many employers do not understand that no National Insurance number does
not exclude them from getting a job, as long as they have a permit to
work."

He added, "I cannot blame employers, but it’s very frustrating when
refugees already have so many barriers to work.

By Catriona Marchant

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