Refugees and the Labor Market

Mohamed Malim

Helping refugees re-enter the workforce

How Refugees Can Gain Access to Local Labor Markets

As refugees attempt to settle themselves and their families in a new country, one of the most important needs they have is a stable source of income. Gaining access to a local labor market will accomplish this goal, but how does a refugee go about doing this?

From the start

Today’s refugee crisis is unlike anything we’ve seen before. There are about 26 million refugees currently throughout the world with 57% of them coming from only three countries. With the current world events going on, this number has a strong possibility of continuing to rise.

In Syria, conflict remains prevalent throughout the northwest region and has displaced over 500,000 people between December 2019 and January 2020 causing increased stress on surrounding regions for various basic resources. Boko Haram also remains a source of hostility for Nigeria which is causing refugees to flee to nearby Niger. However, increased conflict within Niger is now causing these refugees even further worry and displacement. In addition, Somalia is suffering from recent violence as well as food shortages which is displacing around 800,000 people.

With all of these individuals and families uprooting their lives and moving to another city or country because of violence or famine, they are experiencing unimaginable hardships. Getting separated from family and friends, losing a sense of normality in their current environment, as well as losing their main source of income are unfortunate realities for many refugees.

Importance of Employment

No matter where refugees flee, they still need the same resources as everyone else: food, water, shelter, etc. However, the primary means of attaining these resources is now missing: money. Fleeing from one’s home can result in a great deal of loss, including a reliable source of income.

Importance of income for refugees

For refugees, entering the labor market in their new city is an extremely important step to take. Stepping into the local workforce can restore dignity as the individual is able to provide for themselves or their family. This seemingly simple step can lead to having access to education for their children, a safe home and the resources to provide meals for their family. Another benefit of entering the workforce is the safeguards it creates such as lessening the risk of deportation, benefitting from labor laws and much more.

Entering the Labor Market

While refugees attempt to settle into their new city, they might find job opportunities to be difficult to come by. Whether it’s because of a language barrier, no knowledge of where to look or due to waiting for their asylum to be granted, a stand-still of more than one year can result in an employment rate 16-23% less than the average rate.

For those refugees attempting to enter the labor market in Turkey, the process can be extremely difficult. Syrian refugees who are trying to get jobs often run into trouble because of the many hoops that need to be jumped through such as application fees, obtaining Temporary Protection statuses, along with various other employer restrictions.

One reason why trying to enter into local workforces is difficult is because of the lack of formal labor market access. Without this structure, refugees are often stuck without employment because of the amount of hurdles they encounter. However, there are incredibly helpful resources such as Upwardly Global and Talent Beyond Boundaries that connect refugees who need jobs with employers who are looking for their specific talents and passions to fill their roles. Another great resource to refugees are relationships. Through professional mentorships, these individuals can increase their chances of entering the labor market in their new city.

Results of Employment

Once these refugees have landed their job, their world changes. They can now apply their skills to earn an income to provide for their family, can benefit from labor laws and experience joy and dignity once again.

The benefits of employment for refugees are incredible.

Aside from the personal benefits, entire economies can experience the benefits of employing refugees. Since regularizing Venezuelan refugees, Columbia has received an “economic bonus” by way of increasing their GDP through an influx of younger workers. In the United States, Cleveland experienced an economic impact of $48 million and created 650 jobs in 2012 after 598 refugees were settled in the area.

Through Epimonia, purchasing our bracelets made from recycled life-vests also creates jobs for local refugees and 50% of the profits are donated to provide scholarships to refugees who are desiring to pursue a college education.

If you want to learn more about our amazing mission, contact us today!

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