Making the Government get refugees into work

first_img Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Making the Government get refugees into workOn 11 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today Personnel Today’s ongoing campaign to highlight the problems that refugeesface in joining the UK’s workforce has received wholehearted support fromleading organisations. Ben Willmott reportsThe Government needs to introduce effective measures that allow refugees toenter the jobs market to help tackle the skills shortages that are cripplingmany sectors of economy, claim the employers bodies, recruitment industry andMPs that support Personnel Today’s Refugees in Employment campaign. The campaign has attracted high-level support, and urges the Government tointroduce a standard permission-to-work document for refugees and asylum-seekers and to make a commitment to cut red tape for employers who want to takethem on. It also calls for the development of a strategy to produce a skills databaseof all immigrants in the UK and concrete plans to co-ordinate the employment ofrefugees and asylum-seekers. The Government has made a manifesto commitment to deal with asylum,including a pledge to introduce the first strategy for the integration ofrefugees into British society. Events such as the stabbing of two refugees on Glasgow’s Sighthill estate inAugust have highlighted the importance of speeding up this process. John Stevens, CIPD , believes the campaign’s aims are practical and theGovernment needs to take prompt action. He said, “The CIPD endorses the aim of the campaign to supportemployers who wish to employ asylum-seekers or refugees who are entitled towork in the UK but are experiencing difficulty in doing so. “The institute and its vice-president of equal opportunities SteveBarnett, HR director for the Immigration, Nationality and Asylum Service at theHome Office, take the view that the proposals are sensible and that the practicalimplications of the objectives set out in Personnel Today’s letter toimmigration minister Lord Rooker (10 July) should be carefully and quicklyconsidered by the Government.” The Recruitment and Employment Confederation also backs Refugees in Employment,stressing the problems its members suffer as a result of skills shortages. Marcia Roberts, director of external relations for the REC, said, “TheREC is broadly supportive of the Refugees in Employment campaign and the fourobjectives that you have outlined. “The REC operates in virtually all aspects of the employment market andits members are uniquely placed to help refugees find work. We would be willingto work with the Employment Service and the Home Office to assist in any suchprogramme. “Our members are reporting skills shortages in almost every part of thelabour market and with unemployment at a record low, recruiters are having toseek far and wide to fill vacancies.” Alec Reed, founder and chairman of Reed Executive, believes there is a needfor the Government to invest energy and resources into providing more effectivetraining for refugees, particularly those who speak English. He said, “I fully support the Refugees in Employment campaign. Ibelieve that we should make more effective use of the skills and experiencethat many refugees bring with them to this country. “We have supported the Employability Forum, which involves the RefugeeCouncil and other voluntary organisations working with refugees as well as theHome Office and other Government departments.” The Industrial Society welcomes the campaign and emphasis the importance ofsimplifying existing bureaucracy to make it easier for refugees to enteremployment. Gill Sargent, policy specialist for the Industrial Society, said,”Documentation is very confusing for employers at the moment. Refugeeshand employers documents which are unclear. It is unclear as to why refugeeshave the documents they have.” Employers will benefit from the recruitment of refugees, Susan Anderson, theCBI’s director of HR policy, said. She said, “The CBI recognises that the employment of refugees is animportant issue and one that is part of a wider debate. We have skillsshortages in some sectors and many of those currently unable to work could helpfill them.” She told Personnel Today the CBI’s policy on the issue was currently underreview as part of the debate stimulated by the EU directives governing asylum,immigration and Third World-country nationals. Anderson added, “We are only just beginning the consultation processwith our members on the implications of the EU’s` proposals for UK business,but will sound out members’ views on this issue.The campaign aims to: – Introduce a standard permission-to-work document for refugees andasylum-seekers– Make a commitment to cut red tape for employers who want to employrefugees and asylum-seekers– Develop a strategy for a skills database of all immigrants to the UK– Produce concrete plans to coordinate the employment of refugees andasylum-seekers Views from the House– Labour MP Neil Gerrard, chairman of the All-Party ParliamentaryGroup on Refugees, said, “I very much welcome the campaign. All theevidence points to the fact that many asylum-seekers and refugees are peoplewith the potential to contribute to the UK economy.”There is a commitment from the Government to the integration ofrecognised refugees, but I believe that as yet not a great deal is happening toput specific plans into practice. Where schemes have been set up, such as theone in my own local health authority to recruit and where necessary provideappropriate training to refugee doctors, they have been very successful. Ibelieve that action such as you propose to develop skills databases andemployment schemes would be very useful.”The issuing of documentation by the Home Office is far fromsatisfactory. It is not uncommon for people who have been recognised asrefugees to have difficulty in getting papers from the Home Office.”– Conservative MP Peter Bottomley, a member of the All-PartyParliamentary Group on Refugees, said, “The campaign is important. Employerswant to be able to do good. The practical points should each receive a positiveresponse by the Government.”Many members of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinets had parents orgrandparents who came to the UK as refugees and their children made importantcontributions to national life. Others should be able to do the same.” Related posts:No related photos.last_img