Chambers of Commerce unite to support refugees into jobs and help businesses to plug skills gaps

June 5, 2023

Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chambers of Commerce partnership.

Refugees from countries including Ukraine and Syria are being supported into work across Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire by a partnership between two Chambers of Commerce.

Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce and East Midlands Chamber are working together to develop refugees’ skills, employability and social integration, with the aim of enhancing confidence among individuals who have fled war, violence or persecution to take on jobs here – and in turn help businesses to fill vacancies.

In response to the crisis in Ukraine, members of East Midlands Chamber’s employment services team have made weekly visits to Nottingham Ukrainian Cultural Centre to help refugees arriving in the area.

Staffordshire Chambers Positive Pathways project manager Julie Priestnall said: “We are currently working with many refugees who want to work and make a valuable contribution to their host community. They are highly skilled and capable individuals who hold qualifications and practical experience across many areas of work.

“The impact of Positive Pathways has been enormous – not just on the individuals who have needed our support to give them the confidence to take on jobs but also to the local economy, which has benefitted from their skills to plug gaps in the labour market. Global events mean this type of support is needed now more than ever.”

Some of the barriers to employment faced by refugees include a lack of work references or knowledge of the labour market, not having completed education before fleeing their country or qualifications not being recognised in the UK.

Paul Needham, head of employment services at East Midlands Chamber, which represents Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, said: “Given the extremely tight labour market we are experiencing right now – our research shows that while six in 10 East Midlands businesses attempted to recruit in the first three months of 2023, almost three-quarters (73%) of those struggled to fill roles – we have been engaging businesses about the benefits of adopting inclusive recruitment policies to open up vacancies to a wider pool of people, including refugees.

The team has supported more than 150 individuals with personalised training courses, CV and job application writing, interview preparation, housing and financial assistance, introductions to employers, including Nottingham Venues, Pizza Factory and Smyths Toys. It has also worked with Nottingham-based charity Refugee Roots to provide English language lessons and address mental health barriers.

“Staffordshire Chamber has had great success within its own area, providing further job opportunities that  enable refugees to integrate into our society and contribute to the communities they now call home.”

Find out more about Positive Pathways by clicking here.


Original article from: Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce

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