Training refugees for the Hungarian labour market

Thursday 1, February 2007 BUDAPEST, February 1 (UNHCR) – Only a few dozen refugees manage to find legal employment in Hungary each year. Many of the permanently unemployed refugees migrate further to Western Europe in the hope of a better living, while others add to the number of homeless in […]

Thursday 1, February 2007

BUDAPEST, February 1 (UNHCR) – Only a few dozen refugees manage to find legal employment in Hungary each year. Many of the permanently unemployed refugees migrate further to Western Europe in the hope of a better living, while others add to the number of homeless in the country. A training programme in Budapest helped twenty refugees learn Hungarian and get vocational training in order to find jobs.

“None of my students failed the Hungarian language exam in vocational skills, in fact, most of them finished with very good marks!” – says proudly László Darázsi, a trainer who has recently prepared an unusual class of students for their final examination in house-painting and decoration at the Education Centre of the Hungarian Association of Trade and Industry.

Last September, nine refugee men living in Hungary finished an intensive, fifteen-month training course in vocational skills and Hungarian language. In another, similar course, eleven refugees, including nine women, obtained certificates in computer skills and social work. Before the training, all the participants had been unemployed and during their studies, they received a monthy scholarship to alleviate their financial situation. With their brand-new Hungarian training certificates in their pockets, however, eleven of the participants have already found jobs and the rest are now actively searching. The 22 month project, which combined vocational training and job-search ended on 31 January in Budapest.

“The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Budapest considers this training project a potential best practice for other countries as well. “Experience shows, that integrated refugees are beneficial for the host country whereas marginalized groups may become an economic and social problem. Therefore UNCHR is encouraging the new EU member states to develop effective integration mechanisms,” says Melita H. Sunjic, spokesperson for UNHCR Budapest.

Refugees in Hungary have never received such complex training to facilitate their entry into the local labour market. The training was co-ordinated by the Menedék Hungarian Association for Migrants. As András Kováts, Director of the Association says, “Only thirty per cent of all refugees, hardly more than a few dozen persons a year, manage to find durable and legal employment in Hungary. Many of them live under the breadline, work illegally, or increase the number of homeless people in Hungary due to being permanently unemployed.” Kováts believes it is a great loss to Hungary if refugees migrate to Western Europe in the hope of a decent living.

Lionel Nyenti from Kamerun has been living in Hungary for four years, but he had never had a durable job before the training course. Now that he has found one with a construction and home decoration company in Budapest, he has decided to settle down in Hungary for good.

“I work as a painter. I still have problems with the language, but my boss and colleagues are very patient with me and they help me a lot. I have recently handed in my application for citizenship.” – he says slowly, but with no grammatical error in Hungarian.

Zuleikha Deldar from Afghanistan graduated from the computer and social worker training. She speaks Hungarian without any accent and is very optimistic: “I have been employed as a cashier in a supermarket, but I know it’s only the first step towards my goal. Later on, I’d like to work as a social worker assistant.”

Andrea Szobolits in Budapest, Hungary