Aanya Bhandari, Sona Circle
With the refugee unemployment rate (pre-COVID) at 18%, more than four times that of the UK average, refugee recruitment remains a key social and economic issue for over 150,000 refugees in the UK.
In attempting to enter the labour market, refugees are faced with several barriers, both social and systemic which hinder their ability to find jobs.
Recruitment decisions are often based on misconceptions. For example, many employers are unaware that once an asylum seeker obtains refugee status in the UK, they are legally entitled to full and equal rights to work as British citizens.
Often professional, and educational qualifications obtained by refugees in their countries of origin, are not recognised by British employers who tend to favour domestic qualifications. In addition, relevant UK work experience is usually a pre-requisite to getting a job which refugees often do not have.
Due to these as well as language and other cultural barriers, refugees are put at a huge disadvantage in obtaining jobs and employment opportunities which leads to further employment gaps in their CV’s.
Sona Circle bridge the gap by connecting socially conscious employers with the skilled and dependable refugee workforce, and has a track record of promoting equality in the workplace and in employment for refugees and asylum seekers.
The UK is currently faced with a stagnating labour force and an ageing population, a trend which is projected to continue over the next twenty years. An effective integration strategy of refugees into the labour workforce would make available a reservoir of untapped potential as well as an effective integration method for economic and cultural socialisation.
Numerous studies have found that the refugee workforce can be greatly beneficial to success in businesses.
Some of the advantages refugees bring to the table in the workplace include cultural diversity, higher retention rates, a wide range of skills and talents, and an appeal to a growing socially-conscious consumer base who care about diversity and inclusion.
To date, Sona Circle has created over 100 opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers through a network of partnerships with over 35 NGOs and refugee support organisations, and a social media community of over 35,000 followers and subscribers.
Sona Circle is actively engaged in the shaping of public opinion in support of refugees.
We are advocates for the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK through the ‘Lift the ban’ campaign led by Refugee Action. We also created the SonaTalks events platform, a programme of volunteer-led talks, that brings people together to share worthwhile conversations about refugees in our communities.
If you are an employer or someone who would like to get involved, you can find out more about the work we do at Sona Circle by visiting our website here or by getting in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also support our brand-new campaign #EqualTees, where we invite members of the public to take an active stance on promoting true equality across the nation. By purchasing and wearing an Equal Tee, you do not just contribute to the social responsibility of looking after those in need, you are also making a public statement that discrimination and prejudice need to end.