A new report has urged the creation of a kitemark-style accreditation scheme for employers whose workforces include refugees and people fleeing war and persecution.
The report, from the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR), recommends more support be made available for people who want to re-start their former careers. It also recommends more be done to help smaller employers offer opportunities to people who have settled in the UK, having been forced to flee their former homes.
Researchers say the broad lessons from their study, which was conducted in Yorkshire, apply to employers across the entire country.
The IPPR report is based on research with people who settled in the UK, many of them having previously worked in professional roles as diverse as the diplomatic service, nursing and IT – but who struggled to regain their careers since settling in the UK. The accreditation scheme is one of several recommendations in the report designed to improve the career prospects of people looking to rebuild their lives after being accepted into the UK.
Amreen Qureshi, a Research Fellow at IPPR, said: “Refugees in the UK often arrive with a wealth of highly prized knowledge, expertise and experience and there are some real success stories among employers in Yorkshire, the immediate focus of our research.
“However, there are downsides too. Language barriers, precarious work, and workplace discrimination are all problems. In addition, participants in the research told us about the intransigence they sometimes face at job centres and the fact they feel pressured into poor and unsuitable work.
“We learned that employers everywhere could do a number of things that really help. A safe and welcoming work environment, meaningful progression opportunities, providing help to learn English and buddying schemes. All these things make a difference within the region and beyond.”
The report contains a series of recommendations designed to improve the career prospects of refugees, including:
- Creating meaningful opportunities for job progression, including training courses and mentoring for refugees and people fleeing war and persecution who want to rebuild their careers.
- Fostering partnerships among employers and stakeholders, for example by co-ordinating workplace based English language training courses.
- Raising employers’ awareness of the challenges and barriers faced by refugees and people fleeing war and persecution.
- Delivering tailored progression support such as personalised job and career progression plans so people can continue to prosper.
One project in Sheffield is giving refugees with nursing or clinical backgrounds a route into the NHS. To date the ReStore project in Sheffield has helped eight refugees to qualify to work as nurses. The unique scheme provides English language and computing support, alongside the clinical skills training needed to pass exams that qualify candidates to become registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The programme is part led by Blerta Ilazi, an Advanced Nurse Practitioner, who said: “I have created a connection with all my students, which has allowed me to give trauma-informed care. We are flexible. If they have a bad day at home, they can join classes from home. The most important part, when they leave for the hospitals, we make sure that trusts know that these nurses have been through a lot, so they should be aware of how they are communicated with, and any interviews have been arranged according to their needs.”
* Read: Making strides: Refugees’ employment trajectories in Yorkshire and the Humber here.
* Source: Institute for Public Policy Research