Camden provides refugees with first step on job ladder

Borough Council is running an innovative work placement scheme to give refugees
the chance to get relevant experience in the UK.

The council, in partnership with London-based charity City Parochial
Foundation, has offered refugees three six-month placements in financial and
accounting roles in its social services and chief executive departments.

Jennifer Muhammad, Camden’s employment project officer and a member of the
HR team, explained that the council’s involvement in the work placement scheme
sprang from its commitment to valuing diversity.

She said, "This is an employment initiative which reflects the
community in which we live."

Statistics from the London Research centre back this up. Currently, an estimated
240,000 to 280,000 refugees and asylum-seekers live in Greater London boroughs.

However, Muhammad stresses that there is no guarantee of employment at the
end of the placements.

During the placements, the council provides training in telephone skills and
gives careers advice to the refugees. Their travel and subsistence is paid and,
due to their unemployed status, the refugees are still available for other work
during the scheme.

Once the pilot scheme is completed, the HR team will present a report to
Camden’s equalities committee to evaluate the success of the project.

Muhammad said, "We will discuss the viability of the scheme and whether
we can run it on a regular basis as part of our existing work experience

Camden looked at the refugees’ expectations before placing them on the

"The feedback from the refugees indicates that they wanted to improve
their communication skills and find out how an office runs in the UK compared
with their home countries," said Muhammad.

An Industrial Society report, Turning Refugees into Employees, found that
one of the main employment obstacles facing refugees is gaining UK work

By Karen Higginbottom

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