Breaking Barriers to Employment for Refugees

Written by Rachael B. - May 12, 2017

Breaking Barriers is a charity dedicated to helping refugees successfully resettle in the UK and integrate with local communities. Although refugees have high levels of education, skills and qualifications and are mostly of working age, unemployment levels in refugee communities remain above 50%, compared to 6% for the national average.

There are a number of reasons that refugees find it hard to secure jobs, including:

  • Lack of work experience in the UK
  • Limited knowledge of workplace culture
  • Insufficient references
  • The language barrier.

In addition, many businesses avoid employing those with refugees status, as they have little knowledge regarding the working rights of refugees. In fact, those with refugee status are legally entitled to work full-time without restriction.

Breaking Barriers helps by working with businesses, to educate them on refugees’ employment rights, and offering support and training to refugees, to help them find meaningful work appropriate to their skill level.

Unemployment – The Biggest Barrier to Integration

When someone arrives in the UK as an asylum seeker, they are initially not allowed to work or apply for mainstream benefits but may be eligible for asylum support, which is around £5 – barely enough to cover basic needs.

Once granted refugee status, although they become eligible to work, during this transition many become homeless as they no longer have the right to remain in their asylum support accommodation – if they had managed to secure this in the first place. Having no fixed address adds to the difficulty in finding work, which makes it almost impossible to secure accommodation.

These are people who have fled wars, persecution and human rights abuses in their own country, determined to start a new life in the UK and live in out the rest of their lives in peace. However, the coveted refugee status does not fix everything, they still need to learn a new language and adjust to a new way of life, while often still facing discrimination and suspicion when they are simply trying to integrate into and contribute to UK society.

Working with Breaking Barriers

Last year, we approached Breaking Barriers when we were recruiting for some new team members. They quickly provided us with CVs of suitable candidates, and we successfully recruited Mohib Ullah for the Team Administrator role. Mohib has now successfully completed his probation period and has become an integral part of our team. We could not imagine Wholegrain without him.

Recruiting through Breaking Barriers was no different to recruiting with any other agency. We sent them our requirements for the role, they provided the best people for us to interview and when we made an offer, they took care of all the necessary paperwork.

If you’re considering working with Breaking Barriers then we can highly recommend them! Our experience has been great and, as a business, there are several benefits of working with refugees, including:

  • A more diverse workforce (often offering new customer/client insight)
  • Language skills
  • Significant savings on recruitment costs
  • Savings on staff turnover due to refugees’ remarkably high retention rates.

You can support Breaking Barriers work by donating, running training sessions for them or simply taking advantage of their diverse workforce when you next recruit for a new role like we did. Find out more.