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Hiring refugees for business, conference hears


A group of conference delegates

Employers were encouraged to hire more refugees at an event held at the University of Bradford.

Recruiting Refugee Talent: Why Hiring Refugees is Good for Business, hosted by  Bradford City of Sanctuary, aimed to encourage employers to further diversify their workforce.

Refugees arriving in the UK, many of whom are highly educated and skilled, face various challenges in accessing employment despite their qualifications and motivation. The networking event aimed to provide insights into how employers can unlock their potential. A lack of English language skills and employer perceptions that refugees candidates are over or under-qualified for the job were highlighted as potential challenges.

The work of groups helping refugees gain employment was also highlighted in presentations, including from RefuAid, a London-based group which offers support for people from refugee backgrounds living in the UK, and Bevan Healthcare, which helps patients including refugees and asylum seekers, the homeless and sex workers, across West Yorkshire.

Two people talking at a conference

The event attracted employers who have hired refugees, and people who have moved to Bradford as refugees, who shared their experiences of trying to find a job. Representatives from firms including Morrisons also attended. 

Will Sutcliffe, Chair of Bradford City of Sanctuary, said: “People need to feel not just included but able to both contribute and access  opportunities in every sphere.

“There are so many reasons to be proud of being a Bradfordian. It’s a fantastic city. There is so much goodwill and commitment to working towards welcoming and including people seeking sanctuary.”

Professor Adeeba Malik CBE DL, the High Sheriff for West Yorkshire and Deputy Chief Executive of the QED Foundation, pictured below, in her first engagement after being sworn in as High Sheriff on 25 March, was the event’s keynote speaker.

She said: “Bradford does have a history of being welcoming for people who want to call it their home. Refugees have a reputation for being highly reliable, hardworking and loyal.

“When you support refugees, you show that you have a commitment to make a difference in your local community.”

Professor Adeeba Malik

Professor Udy Archibong, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) at the University of Bradford, said: “The university was delighted to host the event which highlighted the good work which is taking place on getting refugees into employment in Bradford and beyond.

“More can be done, however, and I was encouraged to see the event attracted representatives from a wide range of organisations and businesses.

“Refugees’ skills can sometimes go untapped, and it is great that an event such as this raises awareness of the benefits of employing them so they can fulfil their potential.”

In 2017 the University of Bradford was one of the first of many universities to be recognised as a University of Sanctuary, a UK-wide scheme which looks to make sure universities have a culture of welcome and inclusion for asylum seekers and refugees. This was re-accredited in February last year. Two years previously, the University of Bradford’s  Faculty of Health Studies being had received the Sanctuary in Health Award for its work engaging asylum seekers and refugees in Faculty teaching, learning, assessment and research.

Bradford City of Sanctuary  works to build a culture where people from across the world who are seeking sanctuary are welcomed, included and able to fully participate in the life of the city. The organisation, which started in 2008, runs a number of initiatives across the Bradford district to help support those seeking sanctuary.