The government is to publish its long-awaited refugee employment strategy tomorrow (Wednesday).
‘Working to Rebuild Lives’, which was originally scheduled to be published early last year, aims to identify and tackle issues that affect refugees’ chances of integrating into the UK after they receive permission to remain in this country.
The strategy will be launched by immigration minister, Des Browne, and minister for work, Jane Kennedy, in Wembley in North London.
Personnel Today’s campaign, Refugees in Employment, has been calling for a coherent strategy for refugee employment since June 2001.
The Department for Work and Pensions would not confirm the details of the strategy. However, it is believed it will centre on improving the operating framework of Jobcentre Plus facilities to ensure that information about services reaches refugees and that staff have a better understanding of refugee needs and how to support them.
The services offered by Jobcentres that refugees largely remain unaware of include language training and help in understanding the needs of the labour market.
At a recent speech to the Employability Forum, Kennedy said the focus had to be on getting the welcome to Jobcentres right.
“We must get more refugees to see that Jobcentres can help them,” she said. “We are only helping around half of those we should be helping and we have to do better than that.”
The strategy is also expected to detail how Jobcentres can work more closely with refugee community groups and the voluntary sector.
Patrick Wintour, director of the Employability Forum, said it was important the government made use of voluntary organisations who were more in touch with refugee communities on the ground.
Campaign pays off
In 2001, Personnel Today’s ‘Refugees in Employment’ campaign aimed to help government and employers overcome obstacles to employing refugees and asylum seekers.
The campaign included one of the few pieces of original research on the subject, prompting the government to carry out an audit of refugee skills and to develop a strategy to get refugees working.
It was awarded ‘Campaign of the Year’ in the Periodical Publishers Association Awards – the magazine world’s ‘Oscars’.