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Refugee hires supported by new employer network

Refugee employment charity Breaking Barriers has launched a new network, Fuse, to unite businesses from different sectors to improve employment opportunities for refugees in the UK.

According to Breaking Barriers, 17% of refugees have lost their jobs during the pandemic, 5% higher than the national average.

The charity launched Fuse to improve the rate of refugees at work in the UK, which benefits both the country's economy and the individual's potential. 

Businesses such as Ikea and Western Union have already joined the network.  

CEO and founder of Breaking Barriers, Matt Powell, said it is vital employers start to join networks like Fuse to support the hiring of refugees.

He told HR magazine: “Currently there is no national strategy or policy in place to support refugees to get into work or education.

“And yet, there are nearly 375,000 refugees in the UK, each with their own unique story, background, work experience and skills.

“They speak a myriad of languages, a lot speak excellent English, many have had lengthy and respected careers, and plenty have degrees from high-profile universities in their countries.”

Powell said prior to COVID-19, those of a refugee background had an unemployment rate four times higher than the national average due to the barriers faced.

These barriers included gaps on CVs due to a lengthy asylum process, lack of UK work experience or education, lack of English language skills, limited understanding of the UK job market, lack of professional networks, public misconceptions and discrimination.


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Powell said: “Responsible and inclusive employers have a vital role to play in opening up new recruitment pathways that enable refugees to overcome these barriers.

“They also need to seize the opportunity to unlock this diverse and highly capable talent pool.”

HR teams have an important role to play in ensuring a new starter settles into the role and has someone to go to when they have questions.

He added: “Culture shocks can upset people and leave them questioning whether they can continue to work in their new role.

“I think HR teams have one of the definitely help to put newly employed refugees at ease.”

Powell said HR must educate themselves on how to support employees that have come from another country.

“By educating themselves on the barriers that refugees may face, they’re well prepared to step in and provide that extra support as needed.

“And by engaging with organisations like Breaking Barriers who can provide expertise and advice to both the employer and the employee,” he said.