Transitions London believe that businesses don’t fully understand the UK refugee status in terms of employment protocols, and that they could also be missing out on an opportunity to find first class employees.The social enterprise recruitment business offers advice and support for refugee professionals struggling to play a full role in the UK labour market.
Transitions Managing Director Sheila Heard explained: "UK refugees are often highly skilled both academically and in terms of experience and yet they are six times less likely to be employed than the UK national average."
Typically, these mature, multilingual and highly motivated applicants offer a range of diverse talents. Yet these professionals, such as academics, engineers, lawyers, and scientists, are still less successful in finding work. Figures published in the Greater London ‘London Enriched’ document reveal that the employment rate for refugees in London is less than 30 per cent.
Why might refugees be in the UK?
Refugees have been forced to leave their countries due to persecution. They are able to work in the UK without any restrictions and have no UK visa requirement. Refugees should be considered differently to economic migrants. They are not part of the points-based system: where migrants are required to meet particular skill and experience levels and employers given sponsorship duties.
Refugee status is granted to a person who has had a positive decision on their claim for asylum under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (the Refugee Convention) and has been granted leave to remain in the UK. The refugee council claims that in 2011 only 4,312 people were given Refugee Status in the UK. That would only half-fill the Albert Hall. In contrast, 11,731 people were refused refugee status. Contrary to popular belief, the UK is not flooded with refugees.
Most employers don’t realise they may be directly or indirectly discriminating against refugee applicants. Ensuring that effective, fair systems are in place that do not unnecessarily screen out competent refugee candidates means that busy organisations find skilled workers, without compromising on good practice.
Being competent in responding to refugee job applicants demonstrates social value and effective delivery of Corporate Social Responsibility objectives. For organisations delivering public services, such activities fall within the commissioning requirements of the Social Value Act 2012.
Transitions London provide internships and recruitment services, specialist professional orientation for candidates and advice for employers as well as collaborative lobbying to remind statutory bodies of the multiple issues that refugees face in the UK.