Supporting refugees into work: what can we do better?

Gloster R, Wimalasiri V |   | Institute for Employment Studies | Mar 2022

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In 2021, 84,000,000 people were displaced across the world because of conflict and natural disasters and of those 26,000,000 have been granted refugee status in various host countries (UNHCR, 2022).

The current conflict in Ukraine is creating thousands more refugees. The launch of schemes in the UK such as Homes for Ukraine will help to provide accommodation; in the longer-term economic independence and early engagement with work is key to the welfare of refugee communities (UNHCR, 2018).

The Home Office, in its Indicators of Integration, also stresses the need to consider employment as a key to integration. Evidence shows that the employment rate of refugees is also lower than native born citizens (Compass, 2019) and that refugees commonly earn less than average, and particularly women refugees (IMF, 2016). With such a tight labour market, many unfilled vacancies, and the many talents refugees bring, how can current employment support and employers better help refugees who can and want to work to reach their full potential?

This briefing draws on two research studies (Gloster et al, 2020) and Wimalasiri in partnership with Plymouth City Council (2021) with refugee communities carried out in England, to suggest what we can do better.