Employers take lead in refugee skills audit

An increasing number of public bodies are starting to develop databases of
refugee skills in order meet staff shortages.

Glasgow City Council is carrying out a skills audit of refugees and
asylum-seekers in the city to make their employment easier and more
appropriate. The council hopes to fill the city’s significant skills shortages
in teaching, medicine and construction.

Project workers in the council’s asylum support team are interviewing the
4,000 asylum-seekers residing in Glasgow. Numbers are predicted to reach 7,000
by the end of 2001, with asylum-seekers being sent to Scotland from London as
part of the Government’s dispersal policy.

Margaret McDonald, assistant manager of the asylum support team at the city
council, said, "We are looking to assess what skills asylum-seekers have
when they arrive in Glasgow and what percentage of them can get work."

The ultimate aim is to match the skills of asylum-seekers to employers,
explained McDonald. So far, only 150 have been granted leave to stay.

Once the asylum-seekers are granted leave by the Home Office to stay in
Glasgow, local authorities hope to retrain those with relevant qualifications
for work in teaching and medicine.

It is not the only refugee skills assessment being conducted. Earlier this
year the National Organisation for Adult Learning conducted a refugee skills
survey in Leicester and provided the city council and local employers with the
results. It found that 85 per cent had qualifications ranging from O-level to
degree equivalent (News, 12 June).

The British Medical Association and the Refugee Council are also working
together to create a joint database of refugee doctors in the UK that will show
skills and availability for work (News, 26 June).


By Karen Higginbottom

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