Skills of refugees and asylum seekers go to waste

The UK is failing to make the most of a wealth of expertise in vital areas of the economy because many highly qualified refugees and asylum seekers are being ignored, according to a refugee charity.

The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (CARA) said that, at a time when there are shortages in many key areas of the economy such as engineering, science and the medical professions, many refugees with the necessary skills are unemployed or employed in unskilled jobs.

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 doctor from the outset.

Other key professionals, such as scientists and engineers, can have their skills updated for under £12,000, the charity said.

John Akker, CARA’s executive secretary, said: “This not only a waste, it is scandal that more is not done, given that often the applications that CARA receives for support are from people with skills in areas where we are crying out for key workers.”

Frances O’Grady, TUC deputy general secretary, said: “In the high-temperature debate around asylum and immigration the issue of skilled academics and professionals has been missed.

“It is tragic that so many talented individuals are denied the opportunity to maximise their potential, especially when we are crying out for their skills in so many areas.”

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