Media’s influence on refugee unemployment

How does the media reporting influence UK labour market decision-makers and therefore the policy process regarding refugee employment and, secondly, which implications does this have on refugees themselves who seem to be the last link in this complex chain? These are the two overarching questions that have been discussed at Transitions’ Advisory Network meeting organized by Transitions, a social enterprise from London whose mission is to facilitate employment of skilled refugees. The aim of the meeting was to discuss how the media affects challenges refugees looking for employment face, as well as the possible solutions to those.

[h4]Untapped resource[/h4]

Despite the fact there are no exact figures on refugee unemployment, an estimated 7 out of 10 refugees in UK do not have a job (Bloch: 2002). In terms of employment there is no statutory support for refugees in the job market and the number of barriers they face is endless, starting with the misinformation about what refugee status means, their right to employment and education, cross-cultural barriers, homelessness, lack of information and access to IT, need for more work experience and so on. To put it shortly, Transitions claim that while refugees remain an unknown quantity to employers, it is the same situation the other way around.

Striking figures have been presented – 44 per cent of respondents in a national survey by Refugee Action said they had suffered harassment or abuse because they were asylum seekers or refugees, while almost 60 per cent lived in fear of harassment. Along with bad preparation for the arrival of refugees and asylum seekers, there is also a fear of the impact they might have, fuelled by rumours and negative media coverage. Thus, refugees’ potential contribution to UK is overshadowed by myths and ignorance, and media is to be held accountable for not only contributing to general misconceptions, but also its silence on non-existent employment services for all refugees. Why is this not front page news?

[h4]Barriers to overcome[/h4]

From the experience of one refugee, the employment challenges for refugees include lack of UK work experience and work placement, but at the same time facing increasing tendency of having volunteers rather than permanent employees, then meeting UK standards with overseas qualifications, difficulties with CV writing and advocacy, lack of awareness about refugees’ capacities and the language barrier. In that discouraging situation establishing networks with intellectuals and previous supervisors is a good path for refugees to take, as well as exploring higher education opportunities. Though many refugees take HE courses that they think will get them into employment, they are then faced with the problem of a need for work experience, for which they hadn’t realized would be such a problem. In terms of finding a skilled job, work experience is often more important then HE study.

It has been concluded that journalists’ responsibility in the process of policy creating and implementing has to be emphasized in order to tackle the negative image refugees face in the UK today. Current way of reporting has to be challenged and affirmative stories should be encouraged. However, this all cannot be done without the refugees themselves – trainings to enable them to speak for themselves and educating them to use the social media has no alternative if the voices of those affected by a bad policy want to be heard.

If you are a refugee looking for work, you can find more information at:
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If you are a journalist looking to write on this topic, you can contact:
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