The government’s new refugee employment strategy will not help highly-qualified refugees fill skills gaps in the UK economy, experts have warned.
The refugee integration strategy was launched last week in London. Under the plans, a new operating framework will be set up at Jobcentre Plus to ensure that information about services reaches refugees and that staff have a better understanding of refugee needs.
However, John Akker, executive secretary for the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA), said the strategy’s emphasis on using Jobcentre Plus could fail refugees who could be making up shortages in key areas such as engineering, science and medicine.
“All of the stress is on Jobcentre Plus and they don’t have the skills or knowledge to effectively help people in the manner necessary,” he said. “It makes no sense, when there are skills shortages, for [skilled refugees] to be employed stacking shelves in Tesco’s.”
CARA figures show that it can cost as little as £1,000 to prepare a refugee doctor to practise in the UK compared with £250,000 to train a new doctor from scratch. Other key professionals such as scientists and engineers can have their skills updated for less than £12,000, it said.