It is well-known that devastating global events have led to a sharp increase in the number of people seeking asylum in the UK (and across the world). In 2021, there were estimated to be at least 135,000 refugees living in the UK, and in 2022 alone, the government received over 220,000 applications to Ukraine Visa Schemes.
With the unbelievable number of people being displaced from their homes across the world, it is easy to feel at a loss for what to do to help. However, as an employer, you have the opportunity to hugely improve prospects and change lives for refugees and their families.
Barriers to employment
Even after being granted asylum and the right to live and work in the UK, refugees can still face significant barriers to employment, such as holding qualifications not recognised in the UK, discrimination and language barriers. As a result, refugees are four times as likely to be unemployed and, on average, earn half as much per week as those born in the UK. This is despite many being highly skilled and well-qualified; 38% of Syrian refugees in the UK hold a university degree. Young people who have been refugees seem to have little hope in their futures, with 54% stating that they do not believe they will achieve their career ambitions.
Can refugees complete apprenticeships?
In short, yes. Providing the individual has an eligible immigration status (outlined in full in the UK government’s latest apprenticeship funding rules), employers can receive funding for refugees to complete apprenticeship training in the UK.
Apprenticeships may be an ideal solution to those with refugee status struggling to find employment. During the apprenticeship, they can work and earn a living whilst also getting the training they need to upskill in their chosen field. This pathway allows individuals to gain accredited, UK-recognised qualifications, which may be the stepping stone they need to find permanent full-time employment.
What are the benefits to employers?
Offering apprenticeships allow employers to build their workforce with motivated and engaged employees who are completing high-quality training. This is a benefit to any business aiming to continually innovate and grow. Providing apprenticeships to refugees in particular, allows employers to benefit from a more diverse, well-rounded team with different ideas and points of view.
On a commercial level, customers are placing an increasing emphasis on companies’ demonstrations of social responsibility when making decisions about where to spend their money. It’s now more important than ever that businesses give back to their communities and make a positive impact wherever they can. Hiring apprentices with refugee status is a real positive step in supporting individuals as well as achieving your business goals.