Government must act to help refugees into jobs

In July Personnel Today launched a campaign, Refugees in Employment, which
aimed to help employers fill skills shortages by tapping into the skills and
capabilities of refugees and asylum-seekers who have been granted permission to
work in the UK.

If the campaign were successful, there would be gains for both sides.
Refugees would be better able to find appropriate work and employers in certain
sectors and in areas of high employment would be able to fill vacancies.

This week, a survey by Personnel Today and the Refugee Council shows that
nine out of 10 of the companies that responded are willing to take on refugees
or asylum-seekers. HR managers in sectors including hotels, transport,
manufacturing and the voluntary sector see this group as the answer to labour
shortages and skills problems, but they are frustrated by the barriers they
face.

Despite the demand for their skills, the survey shows that 60 per cent of
the refugees who responded have been unemployed for more than a year.

A key concern is that the documentation given to refugees to show they are
entitled to work in the UK is off-putting and leaves employers with the fear
that they could be open to prosecution under asylum and immigration law.

Early next year Home Secretary David Blunkett will be launching a White
Paper which will introduce changes to the way asylum-seekers are dealt with in
the UK. Part of this will be proposals to help those with UK residence rights
to integrate into local communities.

Personnel Today hopes the minister will take on board the findings of this
survey and the aims of the Refugees in Employment campaign when drafting the
white paper.

The survey proves that employers want to recruit refugees and asylum seekers
– now the Government must act to remove the barriers preventing them from doing
so.

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