WW4RI - Employing Refugees-EELGA SMP

Refugees have a range of skills and experience, including proficiency in different languages. Research published by Nuffield Foundation shows that nearly half of the refugees surveyed (45%) already held a qualification before coming to the UK, the majority (65%) were either employed, self-employed or studying.  Many have previous experience working as professionals with backgrounds in a wide variety of roles, from skilled trades to managers and senior officials. Refugees are highly motivated to find and sustain employment in order to develop their new lives in the UK.  They seek stability for themselves and their families and a strong desire to make a positive contribution to their local economy. As such they are dedicated, committed employees offering high employment retention rates. In addition, many refugees have overcome significant adversity, developing adaptability, resilience and strong personal drive.

With existing skills and experience, and the motivation to learn and succeed, refugees represent significant potential assets to businesses. 

As well as bringing in new talent, hiring refugees introduces new ideas and perspectives that enrich the workplace. Research indicates that businesses with diverse workforces have seen increases in productivity, growth, and staff retention. Many businesses are increasingly wanting to include corporate social responsibility initiatives into their wider strategies and working with refugee communities is a real opportunity to embed more socially responsible practices into the workplace.

The video below is an example of a predecessor programme, STEP run by World Jewish Relief, which illustrates the outcomes we are looking to achieve in the East of England through the Wellbeing and Work for Refugee Integration Project:



Refugee Eligibility to Work

Confusion about different work statuses and potential work entitlements creates additional complexities with regard to employment so it is important to bear in mind that:

Anyone with refugee status in the UK has the legal right to work.

Refugee status is normally granted for an initial period of five years.  The refugee then has to apply for an extension after which time it is possible to become a British citizen.  Individuals are given a Biometric Residence Permit to prove their identity and right to work. Every refugee will have had background checks completed on them by the Home Office before being given any leave to remain in the UK.

Further guidance on types of immigration status in the UK and associated entitlements to work is provided on p27 of the UNHCR's Guidelines to Help British Businesses Employ Refugees.


Useful Resources

Refugee Employment Network

TENT Private Sector Partnership for Refugees

TENT UK Employers' Guide to Hiring Refugees

UNHCR Tapping Potential: Guidelines to Help British Businesses Employ Refugees

For further details on connecting with the WW4RI project or offering placements, please contact:

Ferzana Kusair Ferzana.kusair@eelga.gov.uk 07814930510