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Helping refugees find work in Scotland – Scottish Refugee Council

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Looking for a job in a new country can be a real challenge. We provide training and support to help refugees find work in Scotland.

Our short courses and one-to-one support help people understand the UK job market, identify transferable skills, create CVs and perfect their interview skills.

We also work in partnership with employers from a wide range of sectors to help refugees make the most of their skills and experience in the workplace.

Last year, we partnered with Barclays, Bell Group, Esteem Training, Fair Deal, First Bus, IKEA, Macphie, St Andrew’s First Aid and Starbucks to offer 78 New Scots mentoring, training and work placements. We’re delighted that 23 people went on to secure permanent jobs as a result.

All names in the stories below have been changed.

Burhan’s story

Despite his skills and experience in the technology sector, Burhan struggled to find work in Scotland. We offered him a place on a mentoring programme, run in partnership with Barclays. Burhan was matched him with a mentor from a similar skills background and given training and advice to help him make sense of the UK job market.

“This support put me on the right track with working in the UK and how best to use my skills. It also helped me with my confidence and my relationships. First, I was given help with my CV. They provided a first draft and we worked on it together – it was a gamechanger. 

“After a few months I was enrolled in the Barclays mentoring programme and it was amazing from all perspectives. I couldn’t be more grateful. The support helped me get my first job, and then a better job after that. 

“I am now working full time as a Data Analyst. Before I could only get part-time jobs. We were able to get a better house. I can never be thankful enough. You are having a great impact on people’s lives and I am a living example.” 

Sofia’s story

Sofia was offered a place on IKEA’s UPPNÅ programme, which helps refugees gain skills and employment. After completing an eight-week paid work placement she was offered a permanent job at the IKEA store in Glasgow.

“I had applied for so many vacancies and got no reply. The training programme with IKEA was so helpful and made all the difference – for me, it was the main thing. It was the first time I had taken part in this type of programme so all of it was really helpful even though there were some things that I already knew. Still now, I remember a lot of things that I learned. 

“I now work for IKEA in Edinburgh as we have moved there. I was able to transfer my job from Glasgow to Edinburgh and stay with IKEA. The placement gave me more confidence and, because of the job, I have improved my English. Now I feel I can change my future and achieve what I want.” 

Amir’s story

We helped Amir with a free place on an English Language course, so he could start his Masters degree in Manufacturing Engineering at Glasgow Caledonian University. We also arranged a three-day paid work placement for him with ingredient manufacturer, Macphie. Amir was offered a permanent job at the company’s Uddingston factory. He was quickly promoted and is thriving in his new role.

“When looking for a job, the biggest challenge was always the interview. It was a bit of a nightmare. When you’re not a native speaker it’s really hard. I’ve been to many, many interviews and they didn’t go well. It’s very frustrating. 

“Scottish Refugee Council arranged for us to do three trial days at Macphie. They explained the job and what’s involved so it was very clear what would happen. The trial was perfect. It gave me a chance to try the job and see if it was good for me. I agreed to the contract and started working as a Production Operator. 

“After a month, I had an interview to change roles. I moved from an entry level Production Operator to a Continuous Improvement Officer. That’s what I’m qualified in. The interview for that role was great! I was more confident with the company and the guys there know you from the month of working. They know what you’re like and if you’re a hard worker.”

Kemal’s story

After completing our four-day training course with IKEA, Kemal was offered an eight-week paid work placement. He was soon given a permanent position. Kemal works part-time while studying towards a degree in electrical engineering. He also helps other refugees who are looking for work by sharing his employment journey with them.

“When I left home, I was 17 and it was a really stressful time. I had to move to different countries and was really thankful to be able to settle safely in Scotland. I just wanted to be a good person, making a positive contribution to the society I lived in. 

“My placement with IKEA started in July 2021. The first job was in the Recovery department, and I really enjoyed that. I was keen to learn and it was a friendly environment. The managers and team leaders were great and very supportive in my work journey. 

“I was nominated as IKEA Co-Worker of the Year in 2022.  I am the leader of a group there which supports people from ethnic minority backgrounds. If it hadn’t been for this programme, I don’t think I would have had this chance. It boosted my confidence and has helped me achieve what I wanted.  

“What Scottish Refugee Council can offer is a life-changer. For people who are in the position I was in, I would say that getting connected and involved with Scottish Refugee Council is the best thing to do. It’s a cycle: one day you might be getting support yourself and then you can help others. Now I have the chance to give the same support to other people.” 

Find out more about our work to help refugees find employment in Scotland 

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