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UNHCR and OECD launch action plan to boost refugee employment

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UNHCR and OECD launch action plan to boost refugee employment

24 April 2018
Belgium. Entrepreneur refugee brings Syrian cuisine to the heart of Europe
Yara Al Adib serves a guest at the launch of her catering company's first kitchen in Antwerp, Belgium.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and the OECD, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, is launching today an innovative action plan to expand employment opportunities for refugees.

The document not only identifies the challenges, opportunities and best practices in the integration of refugees to the labour market, but also offers a list of concrete actions to support the successful employment of refugees.

“This Action Plan shows the way forward to ensure that the economic potential of refugees is fully harnessed, contributing to their social integration and offering a win-win situation to refugees, employers and host communities,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Volker Türk.

“Harnessing the full potential of refugees in receiving economies and societies requires a whole of government approach in close partnership with the civil society. Employers can and should play a central role in this process, but need to be supported by sound policy and actions from other stakeholders, including at the local level. Together we can make the most of refugee skills, talent and potentials” said Stefano Scarpetta, OECD’s Director for employment labour and Social Affairs.

For this initiative to be successful, a large range of actors need to be involved and well-coordinated. The joint plan itself is the result of a large consultative process, which included employers, trade unions, civil society organizations, governments and refugees.

“Having launched our own refugee inclusion program at IKEA Switzerland 2.5 years ago, we participated in several OECD and UNHCR dialogues on “Employing Refugees”. It is great that the joint endeavours by these two organizations with many other stakeholders has resulted in this broad, but concrete, multi-stakeholder ‘Action Plan’. The 10 Actions, checklist and best practices demonstrate how the whole society can support labour market inclusion of refugees. It will have positive impact”, said Lorenz Isler, Sustainability Manager, IKEA Switzerland.

The plan identifies action areas that are key to ensure the successful labour market integration of refugees, including:

  • The initial stock-taking of refugees’ skills and the identification of possible skills gaps
  • The matching of refugees’ skills with employers’ labour needs
  • The steps needed to ensure equal opportunities and to prepare the work place to welcome and integrate new refugee colleagues
  • The support to employers who have to navigate the administrative framework regarding work rights of refugees
  • The need for sufficient legal certainty on the length of stay of refugee workers and for a sustainable model of refugee employment

“This Action Plan fully supports a new approach, whereby refugees would be included in the communities from the very start, gain access to jobs and become self-reliant, contributing to local economies and to the development of host communities,” said Türk.

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