Press Release

New Research Provides Policy Roadmap to Strengthen Refugee Integration Through the Power of Work

Report by Tent and OPEN highlights key best practices and promising new approaches to accelerated refugee employment

August 16, 2017

Matthew Di Taranto
(212) 819-4862
[email protected]

New Research Provides Policy Roadmap to Strengthen Refugee Integration Through the Power of Work
Report by Tent and OPEN highlights key best practices and promising new approaches to accelerated refugee employment

New York, NY – A compelling new report by the Tent Foundation and the Open Political Economy Network (OPEN) offers a toolkit for nations to unlock the enormous talent, motivation and potential of refugees by accelerating their entrance into the workforce. In “Step Up: How to Get Refugees Into Work Quickly,” Tent and OPEN outline 16 key recommendations for governments, NGOs and businesses to improve existing integration efforts by allowing refugees the right to work, strengthening their skills, and providing job opportunities.

With tools ranging from well-designed mentorship initiatives to digital job-matching mechanisms to effective language and training programs, these best practices will allow nations and communities around the world to reap the economic benefits that resettled, integrated and empowered refugees can bring.

“We know that, over time, refugees make important economic contributions in the countries where they resettle. This report offers a menu of low-cost, common-sense investments that governments, NGOs, and the private sector can make to accelerate those economic dividends, and ensure that refugees become self-reliant, productive members of society,” says Gideon Maltz, Executive Director of Tent.

“Getting refugees into work is a top priority – and this report highlights how much countries can learn from what works well elsewhere,” says Philippe Legrain, founder of OPEN and author of the report. “Under the bold leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada does best globally, while Europe is blazing a trail with apps and online platforms that help refugees to learn the local language, obtain training and find jobs. Businesses and organizations should seize the opportunities of recruiting hard-working and highly motivated refugees.”

Investing in refugees’ economic integration can yield significant financial dividends. In fact, research by the Tent Foundation and OPEN from 2016 found that for every dollar or euro countries invest in welcoming refugees, their economies receive nearly twice that in economic benefits within five years. According to that study, refugees have the potential to drive economic growth, increase productivity and wages, and boost innovation, enterprise and international trade over time.

Yet refugees face many challenges when settling in a new country and searching for work. The new report surveyed efforts in 22 countries with advanced economies and is an invaluable resource to all who are actively working to improve integration efforts and unlock the economic dividends of refugee communities.

Highlights from the report’s recommendations include:

  • Assess skills and start job and language training as quickly as possible
    For refugees approved for resettlement, this could start in refugee camps, along with the cultural orientation classes that are often already provided. In Germany, the government has created an Ankommen (Arrival) app for newly arrived asylum seekers.
  • Tailor language training to workplace needs
    Language training is crucial. In the EU, refugees with intermediate language skills are more than twice as likely to be employed than those at the beginner level or below. Pairing on-the-job language and skills training with part-time work, as Denmark does, is particularly effective.
  • Create well-designed refugee mentorship programs
    These connect refugees with mentors who can broaden their networks, help them find jobs and establish personal goals, and navigate their way as they integrate into a new country. In the UK, employment among mentees in the Time Together program rose from 5% at the beginning to nearly 50% by its conclusion.
  • Offer apprenticeships and internships that provide valuable training and local work experience
    Studies show that apprenticeships, which combine vocational learning with practical job experience, are particularly effective at getting young people into work. In Germany, Wir Zusammen (We Together), a coalition of more than 190 businesses, has provided internships for 3,500 refugees and apprenticeships for a further 800.
  • Consider local job prospects when selecting domestic locations for resettling refugees
    This can significantly improve the ability of refugees to find employment quickly. In Sweden, refugees are placed in localities where jobs match their employment profile based on education level and work experience.
  • Establish refugee recruitment programs among businesses
    There is a strong business case for hiring refugees, which can yield a very high return on investment, notably through increased productivity and lower staff turnover. A more diverse workforce also boosts creativity and innovation within a company, while also helping to tap markets internationally. Additionally, high-skilled refugees can help fill key roles where there are existing skills gaps.
  • Make digital job-matching sites and platforms more widely available and accessible
    In several European countries, volunteers have set up online platforms that advertise job openings at companies and let refugees build employment profiles to apply easily.
    The report and the full list of recommendations can be found online.

The Tent Foundation seeks to improve the lives and livelihoods of the 65 million people who have been forcibly displaced around the globe. We do this by funding direct assistance, investing in innovation, and promoting policies and partnerships to help the displaced realize their full potential.

Philippe Legrain is the founder of Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), a platform for progress – a new kind of campaigning, networked international think-tank – on openness issues. He is also a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute and a columnist for Project Syndicate and Foreign Policy. Philippe is the author of four critically acclaimed books, notably Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, which was shortlisted for the 2007 Financial Times Business Book of the Year award. His first study for Tent and OPEN, Refugees Work: A Humanitarian Investment That Yields Economic Dividends, was published in May 2016.

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