– Personnel Today readers respond to the real asylum debate

of the week
Work can bring a welcome respite

congratulate Personnel Today for launching this debate as asylum-seekers raise
strong feelings, and while the issues are complex, some want to see the way
forward as simple. As well as working in business, I am a volunteer at the
Medical Foundation with people who have been tortured.

major concern is people who have already suffered greatly in their home country
are left wondering for months or years whether they will be returned to their
torturers by the UK appeal system. While waiting for a decision, many
asylum-seekers are prevented from working legally. For many, work could
contribute to their mental recovery.

West African man, who was allowed to work while his appeal made it way through
the system, regularly worked a 60-hour week, despite back pain linked to his
torture being made worse by the work. He preferred to be busy rather than think
about what had happened to him and constantly worry about others back home.

don’t recommend that anyone does things that aggravate a physical condition,
but the example illustrates that work can provide more than a living.

Wembley Park, London

should be proud of support

Oscar-winning documentary Into the Arms of Strangers should be compulsory
viewing for all who join in the debate about Britain’s attitude to
asylum-seekers. It tells the story of the Kindertransport scheme where Britain
admitted several thousand Jewish children (including a number of my relations)
as refugees from the Nazis. Is this opening the doors to scroungers or an act
of selfless generosity?

economic and cultural contributions made by that community in the 60 years
since that time are well documented. It is also an episode in which Britain can
justifiably take some pride.

Partner, Angel Productions

make sure we keep it legal

have no problem with a change in the law to allow asylum-seekers to work while
their cases are being considered by the immigration authorities, providing the
income is at least partly used to reduce any burden on the state.

should also help reduce exploitation of asylum-seekers by unscrupulous
employers in the "grey economy" where they may work without proper
health and safety protection.

I would strongly resist any move that encourages growth or gives any form of
legitimacy to a cross-border trade in people.

asylum-seekers is a high profit – low risk activity for the organisers. They
mostly operate outside the UK so few have been brought before our courts. The
total indifference of our EU neighbours is obvious and encourages the trade.

let us consider the skills that asylum-seekers may bring, but I believe we can
only do so in the context of legal – not illegal – immigration."

Via e-mail

should help – in genuine cases

response to your debate on asylum-seekers, I believe the Government may be
influenced only by a refugee’s skills, qualifications and work experience when
granting asylum, especially where there is a particular skills shortage.

do not feel this should be a criteria, as it could encourage falsification of qualifications
and experience. Consequently, each refugee will require stringent checks and
this country does not have the resources to carry this out effectively.

are illegal immigrants who give a bad name to the genuine refugees. I would
like to know, however, what additional checks would be put in place by the
Government if work could be offered, as I feel we do not carry this out
effectively now.

extra resources will be required and how will all this be paid for? Where there
is a genuine case for asylum, I empathise, as I believe we should help these
people as much as possible.

and address supplied

house must be put in order

are over a million people unemployed in this country and I feel strongly that
the skills shortages that you mention should be tackled by Government
interventions now. This needs to be done by introducing policies to improve
school education, further education and skills training and by legislation to
change employers’ attitudes towards employing older people.

than expecting to employ people with existing skills, employers should be
encouraged to invest in training programmes to fill skills shortages.

policies stopping the "maintenance grant" and introducing fee-paying
for students have created a situation where school-leavers from working class
homes are prevented from attending university, simply because they can’t afford
to pay for their courses or support themselves during a full-time course of
study. This causes a shortage of qualified graduates to fill highly skilled

this country we also have a lot of highly skilled people who are not considered
employable, simply on the grounds of their age. The Government must introduce
legislation to stop employers practising age discrimination, wasting this
valuable resource.

lot of asylum-seekers are coming to this country with false passports and
identification papers which they have purchased from organised gangs of crooks.
So how are employers to verify and validate the qualifications of people who
come here under such circumstances?

Reading, Berkshire

must wipe out abuse of trust

already believe the Government has been very short sighted in implementing the
IR35 for IT contractors as this has led to many working abroad, has provided
less flexibility for employers and will encourage a further shortage of skills.

Government’s response is to relax immigration rules to encourage people with
those exact skills to come and work in this country. This makes no sense. And
if we were to employ asylum-seekers/refugees, then the Asylum and Immigration
Act will need to be changed to avoid employers breaking the law.

Government preaches an enterprise culture, yet it has introduced more and more
red tape, crippling businesses by adding extra costs, burdens and headaches.

and address supplied

example of red tape tangle

are probably aware that the country as a whole faces a shortage of bus drivers.

Oxford, we face this difficulty in a county with exceptionally low levels of
unemployment, but there are a number of asylum-seekers in the area, and
recently two successfully completed our selection process.

offers of employment are contingent on the DVLA granting the provisional PCV
licence which allows us to then teach people to drive buses. Both applicants
were rejected by the DVLA as they had no identity documents having fled their
home country – Kosovo or one of the Balkan states, I believe.

only papers they had were from our own Immigration Dep-artment, stating that
the person "claims to be" who they said they were.

the necessary documents they cannot be granted their licences and so cannot
take up their positions with us.

understand the importance of establishing identity for driving licence
purposes, but I feel this is a classic example of the red tape that is stopping
people, who are keen to contribute in an area of staff shortages, from getting
a job.

Personnel manager, The Oxford Bus Company

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