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Refugees can be a valuable talent pool for companies, and working with non-profit organisations can help facilitate the hiring process. NGOs can help connect companies with qualified refugee candidates and provide support throughout the hiring process, including navigating legal requirements and addressing any cultural or language barriers that may arise. Additionally, partnering with NGOs can help companies demonstrate their commitment to social responsibility and diversity and inclusion efforts, which can have positive impacts on both their reputation and bottom line. It’s important to recognise the skills and talents that refugees bring to the table, and to take steps to ensure that all qualified candidates, regardless of their background or immigration status, have equal opportunities to pursue employment and contribute to the workforce.

This type of partnership between companies and NGOs has a well-established model. In a study by Eun Su (Jeannie) Lee of Newcastle Business School and Betina Szkudlarek of the University of Sydney, the researchers analysed the partnership approach in Australia by interviewing managers from NGOs that specialize in refugee employment and organizations that have hired refugees. To further explore the topic, I also had the opportunity to speak with Rebecca Benest, who is the Manager of Program Development at Jumpstart Refugee Talent (JRT), an NGO that provides employment services for refugees in Canada.

According to the research conducted by Lee, Szkudlarek, and insights from Benest, there are comparable opportunities, obstacles, and solutions related to refugee employment across the globe. They identified three key areas in which NGOs and companies can work together to enhance refugee employment: expectation setting, job readiness, and cultural expertise. By collaborating in these areas, employers and refugees can achieve mutual benefits. This article highlights their findings and showcases the positive outcomes of such partnerships.

Why Companies Should Hire Refugees

To begin with, it’s important to understand who refugees are. According to official definition, a refugee is someone who has been compelled to leave their home country due to persecution, war, or violence. Currently, there are approximately 27 million refugees worldwide, with a majority of them coming from countries such as Syria, Venezuela, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar, and most recently, Ukraine.

Refugees represent a valuable talent pool that should not be overlooked. They possess numerous strengths, including their international experience which enhances their problem-solving skills and makes them more innovative. According to Rebecca Benest from JRT, refugees bring a unique perspective and creativity due to their different backgrounds and experiences.

In addition, refugees often have a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn and adapt to new environments. They bring valuable perspectives and experiences to the workplace, enhancing diversity and cultural awareness. Additionally, hiring refugees can have a positive impact on the local community and economy, as it helps to address skills shortages and promotes social cohesion. Overall, refugees have a lot to offer and can be a valuable asset to any organization that is willing to invest in them.

Hiring refugees not only benefits companies, but also addresses pressing humanitarian needs and demonstrates corporate social responsibility. By supporting refugees, companies can promote human rights and inclusion, and alleviate the suffering of those forced to flee their homes. Employment provides refugees with a sense of purpose and belonging in their new communities, and research suggests that it substantially improves their wellbeing. Additionally, filling jobs with refugees can lead to increased tax revenue, reduced social support costs, and the innovative contributions of a diverse talent pool.

Why Companies Don’t Hire Refugees

NGOs can play a crucial role in helping companies hire refugees by addressing the challenges that often prevent companies from considering refugee candidates. For example, NGOs can:

Provide language and job training: Many refugees may lack language skills and job-specific training, making it difficult for them to meet the requirements of a specific job. NGOs can provide language and job-specific training to refugees to help them gain the necessary skills to succeed in a particular job.

Validate professional qualifications: NGOs can help refugees navigate the process of validating their professional qualifications from their home countries. This process can be complicated, and NGOs can provide support to ensure that the qualifications are recognized by potential employers.

Facilitate connections with potential employers: NGOs often have connections with potential employers and can facilitate introductions between refugees and employers. This can help refugees overcome the lack of direct connections to potential employers.

NGOs can provide cultural education to help refugees understand local cultural norms and work practices. This can help refugees integrate into the workplace and avoid misunderstandings. By working with NGOs, companies can tap into a valuable talent pool and make a positive impact on the lives of refugees, while also benefiting from the economic contributions that refugees can make.

let’s dive into the three key areas for effective refugee hiring, as identified by Lee, Szkudlarek, and Benest.

Expectations management:

When hiring refugees, it’s important to set realistic expectations about what the job entails and what skills are required. This involves ensuring that refugees understand the work culture and expectations in the host country, and that the employer understands the unique challenges that refugees may face. NGOs can help bridge this gap by providing cultural orientation, language training, and job coaching to help refugees navigate the hiring process.

For example, JRT provides a pre-employment program that includes one-on-one coaching, workshops on Canadian workplace culture, and help with resume and interview preparation. By setting clear expectations and providing the necessary support, refugees can more effectively integrate into the workplace.

Job-readiness training:

Many refugees may have transferable skills, but may lack the specific training or certifications required for certain jobs in the host country. NGOs can help address this by providing job-specific training and certification programs.

JRT offers customized training programs for refugees based on their individual skills and interests. For example, they offer a program to help refugees become certified in the food and beverage industry, which can lead to jobs in the hospitality sector.

Cultural expertise:

Cultural expertise is crucial for effective refugee hiring. This involves understanding the cultural nuances of the refugees’ home countries and the host country, and ensuring that employers are sensitive to these differences. NGOs can provide this expertise by acting as a cultural broker between refugees and employers.

JRT partners with companies to provide cultural training and support to help employers understand the unique perspectives and experiences of refugees. By building this expertise, companies can create a more inclusive workplace culture that benefits both refugees and the broader organisation.

By working together in these three areas, NGOs and companies can create a more effective and inclusive hiring process that benefits both refugees and employers.

How to Step Up and Hire Refugees

That’s a great suggestion. It’s always helpful to learn from others who have experience in the area and to build partnerships with organizations that can provide support and resources. Another option is to reach out to local refugee-focused NGOs to explore partnership opportunities. They can provide valuable insights into the local refugee community, as well as resources and support for hiring and integrating refugees into the workplace. It’s important to remember that refugee hiring is a team effort and requires collaboration and partnership between different stakeholders.

These are great examples of how companies can take a proactive approach to hiring refugees and creating opportunities for them to succeed. Starting small and building on successes is a practical way to make a positive impact, and partnering with NGOs and other organisations can provide valuable support and expertise. IKEA and Bell are setting a good example with their programs, and other companies can learn from their approach to training, job readiness, and cultural integration. By investing in refugee talent, companies can benefit from diverse perspectives and skills while making a positive contribution to their communities.

Refugee Employment Is Inspirational

These are inspiring stories that highlight the importance of employment opportunities for refugees, and the positive impact that can result from their successful integration into the workforce. It’s essential to continue supporting refugees’ access to employment and provide them with the resources and tools necessary for success. Thank you for sharing this information.

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