How to Get Refugees into Work Quickly 

Open Political Economy Network (OPEN) along with the think-tank TENT,  has released new resources to help get refugees and asylum seekers into work. This follows our own SWVG campaign working towards a change in the law to allow some asylum seekers to work whilst waiting for a decision, which can sometimes take as long as twenty years.

Getting refugees into work helps improve integration, removes any burden to the State and “when refugees become colleagues and friends, they no longer seem like a threat”. Refugees are hard-working and motivated and with proper assistance and advice, recruiting them can yield a quick return: with appropriate financial support, a business can get payback on their investment in only a year. It is good for society and good for refugees and asylum seekers too. It gives refugees a sense of purpose and the tools for building up a new life in the UK.  

For many refugees, getting into work can be difficult. For asylum seekers in the UK, there is no automatic right to work, and even after twelve months, only a very limited range of jobs are made available. This means the skills and potential of refugees and asylum seekers are neglected, “allowing their skills to rust, depressing their motivation and deterring future employers”.

Best practice includes an efficient asylum process, allowing some asylum seekers a right to work, and early assessment and intervention. Better language skills and training are needed, focusing on workplace needs including on-site training. The use of mobile phone apps can also provide a flexible and useful way of learning a new language. Work programmes need to be tailored to the needs of the refugees and asylum seekers themselves, as well as local labour market shortages. Work placements, internships and apprenticeships are all good ways to develop the skills needed and provide a pathway to secure employment as well as the use of digital and on-line training.

The report specifically mentions the vital work done by charities and groups like SWVG which mentor and assist refugees and asylum seekers getting into work and integrating into society.

The research suggests that more care needs be taken when dispersing refugees and asylum seekers according to local market conditions. It is also vital to tackle discrimination against refugees and asylum seekers with policies that reduced the potential for unfair treatment.

For more information on SWVG’s right to work campaign, check out our main campaign page as well as our Twitter and Facebook posts.