Jemeela: OK shall we start letting everyone in now?
Welcome everyone, I think people are starting to join. I’ll just give it 1 minute whilst people start joining and then we’ll start in a second. So, welcome everybody. Fantastic. It’s great to see so many of you joining so that’s what all the beeps are which is brilliant. I’m gonna get started, actually I’ll give it another 30 seconds and then we’ll start just whilst people join. It’s great to see so many of you.
Ok brilliant. OK so I’ll get started so first of all the thing to say is a huge welcome to everybody that’s joined this afternoon, I’m really excited to have you here and we’ve got a really stimulating discussion this afternoon so I hope you’ll all enjoy it. So, this webinar is about how you can support refugees to be able to succeed in work. So, yeah it should be a really great session.
So my name is Jemeela Quraishi and I am Programme Systems lead within the CIPD Trust. I think some people are still gradually joining so you didn’t miss anything at the beginning. So, I’m gonna go through a few housekeeping things before we really get into it.
So, just so you know, you’ll have hopefully seen a pop up that this webinar will be recorded and it should be just under an hour so you’ll be finished before, well in time for 1.30 so we’ll definitely be wrapped up by then. And you’ll have noticed as you were joining that you will have been muted on entry, and we just ask that throughout the webinar we stay on mute. This is just so that everybody will be able to hear all our voices clearly and we don’t have any background noise getting in the way. And as I said we’re really excited to have you all here and we really want you to get involved in the conversation in the next sort of 50 minutes or so, so there’s a couple of ways that you can do this. Please do make use of the chat function as a way to kind of share your thoughts or network with other people who are attending so please use the chat function for that and as I said we do have a wonderful panel who you’ll be hearing from later and we will have Q&As as part of that so we really want to hear your questions so please use the Q&A function for that, so if you’ve got a really burning question and you want to ask our panel then please submit it through our Q&A function and we will pick those up there and get through as many as we can today.
So, before we get into it, I wanted to just share a few things. The other thing that I wanted to say, I’ll just go to the next slide, is obviously I’ve introduced myself but you’ll also be hearing from my fantastic colleague Leah who is going to be chairing our panel today and Leah is the Senior Programme Manager within the CIPD Trust so you’ll be hearing from both of us today and towards the end of the session we’ll be sharing a bit more about how you can get involved quite quickly in what we’re doing. And I thought I’ll sort of just take the first 5 minutes or so to give you more information about the CIPD Trust. Now some of you may know a bit about the trust and some of you may not know very much and that’s ok because the
Trust is just over a year old. So, we launched back in April 2022 when our head of trust Sally Eley joined us and really, I suppose the real way to think of us is we’re the real charitable, extra charitable bit of the CIPD. And what we do I’d really look to how we can harness the power of people like you, so people professionals, HR professionals, to really look at how we can tackle barriers to work and create better an inclusive workplace. And really what we do is act as an amplifier for the CIPD. Many of you will be familiar with the CIPD’s purpose of championing better works and working lives. And that’s what we’re really about too. The distinguisher is that we really focus on where the need is most and where people are facing barriers and that’s what really distinguishes us, and that’s really what today’s session is all about.
We know refugees face more barriers in terms of accessing work and they’re a key group for us, for the CIPD Trust and so today is all about hearing about what you can do potentially within your work places, and also how you can directly support refugees who are trying to, trying to really succeed in that first role that they’ve got here in the UK.
So, I wanted to bring your attention to our impact framework and I’ll just kind of talk about this a little bit, and this is what really underpins everything that we do as the CIPD Trust and it really is there to hold us accountable and help keep us focused in terms of what are our missions and what we’re trying to achieve. As I said its really about tackling barriers to work and creating those inclusive work places of tomorrow. And as you can see, there’s a few ways that you can do that, there’s a few kinds of activities highlighted there and a couple I just want to bring to your attention. A key area of our work is looking at the profession itself and how we can diversify the profession and think about how we can make sure it’s much more representative of the communities that it serves and we have a number of programmes that we deliver to be able to do that, so for example, we have our bursary programme where we do have a focus on supporting refugees into the profession and how we can help people get that first step to get into the profession. And then we also have our for example, our Aspiring HRD mentoring programme which is about helping people progress to that really senior level who might need some extra support and who are perhaps not representative right of that top level. So, it’s really about trying to make sure that people profession is much more representative of the communities it serves but ultimately what we’re about is making sure what we’re achieving on the outcomes that we have on the bottom of that framework which I really just want to draw your attention to, and that’s about creating greater access to, and a better experience of work for individuals and that’s both in terms of the profession itself but also in terms of work more generally. As the Trust, we really see you as the people profession, as the HR professionals, really have that insight and knowledge and expertise in what the world of work is and how it works and how it operates and how you can make that difference to an individual who is facing those barriers to work. And at the moment we have a focus on 3 key areas. Refugees, as you might expect from today’s session. But we also have a focus on supporting people with convictions and also people in their 50’s and 60’s who are trying to return into work after a gap. But again, its all about supporting those who need that support most. Now we would like to support everybody who faces barriers but this is kind of where we are starting from and as the Trust work grows and expands, we will look at other groups that we will be supporting but at the moment that’s where our real focus is, and obviously today is all about how we can support refugees to succeed in work.
Then we want to look at, again this is where we see the professionals as really well positioned to have that influence and ability to change and you’ll hear a bit more about this very shortly, is looking at how we can change policies and procedures and practice within organisations to really improve working lives and create much more inclusive work places for people who face barriers and for people, which will impact everyone as a whole in terms of making working lives better. Long term goals, the aspiration, the real kind of blue skies, we really want to create a diverse, equitable and prosperous society that provides fairer work and those measures are really, everything that we do is all about making sure that we’re delivering all those outcomes and getting closer to achieving those outcomes. So, all our measures, the way we decide what we are going to focus on, the way we do our work, all have to come back to those and that really is what holds us accountable and what’s really important for us, and something that we’ve taken some time to make sure we get right so hopefully that gives you aa sense of what we’re about and what we’re trying to do. But what does that mean in practice for you? What does that actually mean?
Well, I guess the key message that I would like to get across is that the CIPD Trust, what we see our selves as is a real convener to bring together the HR profession, bring together business, bring together the third sector to really look how we can collaborate and test ideas and put ideas into action and see how we can test and improve and create more inclusive, inclusive policies. So today is a really great example of that. The panel that you’re going to hear from a bit later, but really I guess one of the things that we think of ourselves is that we’re more of a do tank than a think tank so it’s all about you know, what could we try, what could we test, let’s see if that works, let’s see where we get to and let’s see if it’s something that could potentially scale and make a difference on a much bigger level. We’re also about bringing people together and I guess that’s hopefully what you’re coming across and to help you build your network to make those connections and really want to enable that and this is what today’s session is all about. And bring you as HR professionals closer to talent and seeing you know, the potential of people who perhaps don’t get the same opportunity in terms of the way things are now and we can change things to improve that and make that change. So that’s really a bit about what we’re trying to do and how you could potentially help us and I guess what you might be thinking is how do we decide on what groups do we support. You know, we have to focus somewhere and as I said we want to be able to support everyone but at the moment we have a key focus on 3 key groups and refugees obviously is the key one which is why you’re here today so I’m just very briefly going to bring your attention to the evidence behind that in terms of thinking about why we’re doing this and just a couple of things to highlight. We know that refugees, based on unemployment rates are 4 times higher than the UK average which is really quite staggering. We also know that refugees often will take any job that they can get because they just need to be able to work and you know, they want to be able to settle into the UK and actually that’s not necessarily making the most of the skills, expertise and experience that they can potentially offer an organisation, and also help them be a success in terms of their own aspirations and their own career. So, it’s probably enough from me for the moment, because I could talk about lots of different steps and things, but actually what we want you to hear from is our panel and really kind of hear from people who really know more about this so I am going to hand over know to my wonderful colleague Leah who is going to introduce our amazing panel. Thank you.
Leah De Silva: Thanks Jemeela and it’s great to see so many of you on today’s session and I don’t doubt its because we’ve got such a panel of experts joining me so I’m going to introduce them more fully in a second but for now I’m going to invite Bea from RefuAid, Anastasia, Hoda and Victoria, just to come on to camera and I’ll mute themselves for our discussion and whilst they’re doing that, let me explain who they are, where they’re from and what they’re going to contribute in today’s discussion.
Bea from RefuAid is one of our collaborators, co-conspirators if you like. She’ll be working with us on our upcoming pilots this autumn. She is the senior requalification and employment caseworker at RefuAid, and I think what Bea will be able to do when we come to her in a moment is just really build on what Jemeela has introduced there, give us a bit of a scene set, set the context as we know that context is key. And also explain really some of the challenges that refugees face when they are transitioning into the UK and how you as a professional can help ease that. Welcome Bea.
Anastasia is joining us today, delighted to have you. Anastasia is not just a CIPD student member but also a recent bursary recipient from the City and Guild and CIPD Trust fund. Anastasia will be able to share her own personal story and her lived experience of actually transitioning to the UK herself. But hopefully her insights will help us really think about this work in real terms, about the differences and impact it can make. Welcome Anastasia.
Hoda is joining us now. Hoda is wearing 2 hats today which I love, so she’ll be flitting between both. But she’s HR at, Head of HR I should say, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. And Hoda is in, I guess the enviable position of being a mentee and a mentor. So, she is somebody who is experiencing the support of the profession whilst also giving back to some of our recent recipients so we’ll be quizzing her on that and also understanding the benefit that mentoring can bring so welcome to you Hoda.
And Victoria is coming again with 2 hats I suppose, as a member of the profession but also critically as an employer who’s been active in this space and has tapped in to this pool of talent and for me, I think Victoria will tell you a bit about this in a minute, has some of the most key practical ways of actually making change in this space. So, a huge welcome to our panel.
The way this is going to work is that I’m going to ask each of them in turn to just have an opening conversation with me to get the conversation started. Whilst they’re doing that, don’t forget what Jemeela said, do populate the Q&A with all your questions, we’ll try and come to as many as we can at the end, but fear not, if we don’t we’ve got wonderful people covering the chat. My colleagues Allie and Zoe will be in turn managing the chat and the Q&A and feeding us questions, so if we can’t get to them today, we’ll answer them in the chat or offline. So, lets get stuck into it because I know time is ticking.
Bea, I’m going to ask you to unmute first of all and come to you first of all, as I said, give us a bit of a context, a scene set and explain to us and give us some reality behind the stats that Jemeela shared about the challenges that refugees face and some of the myths and misconceptions that might be out there.
Bea: Thank you so much Leah, that’s fantastic yes. So, building on I suppose, what’s already been mentioned, there are a lot of barriers that refugees and asylum seekers face when arriving in the UK in terms of employment and other things as well, so one main thing that we kind of addressed when RefuAid was found in 2015, was the access to language, and that’s kind of the first stage that we try and overcome through our language programme. There also a problem with access to finance provisions and able to pay for the costly reaccreditation pathways that refugees and asylum seekers must do because their internationally received skills and qualifications aren’t actually necessarily recognised in the UK. And then also employment as well, which is where RefuAids 3 core programmes came from. Within that, we’ve managed to identify myths surrounding employers with refugees and hiring refugees in different ways, and I think that the main one that Maisey and I, who also works at RefuAid, were discussing this morning was just that some employers feel as though some employers feel as through refugees have a lack of skills and experience, mainly because they are not aware of the certain qualifications they have, or they might look a little bit different or there’s some difficulties there, getting them translated and verified to be able to apply for jobs like maybe a UK citizen would. And actually, that comes from just not knowing and a sense of being removed from the problem, but actually what employers do realise is that if they are able to hire refugees and we’ve had 200 clients from RefuAid that have been hired into work (inaudible) skills and experience, they’re able to tap in to a pool of talent they would otherwise be unable to work with. And actually, not only does that diversify the kind of work environment but it also offers really valuable perspectives from people that have been trained all over the world. And I think that’s one of the main myths then that yes it seems to be that employers lack that kind of awareness about maybe why somebody has a gap in their CV or why they haven’t got UK work experience and part of what we try and do is advocate for kind of, why that’s not necessarily something to be concerned about and try and kind of work with employers to understand why this is the case.
Leah: And it sounds like, I’ll see lots of people nodding in a moment, it seems like I think from what you said in a tight skills market at the moment it’s critical to look at untapped pools of talent in that way, and just get the sort of reassurance and confidence to do that. And it seems like things like today will hopefully do that because we can bust some of those myths and it allows information to be shared in that way. From your perspective, I think it’s really interesting when you’re talking about that translation of accredited skills etc. Bea. Thinking about the difference of the profession, the HR profession, people profession can make. What are you hoping for from this work that were going to do together in the Autumn?
Bea: Well, I think it’s a very exciting opportunity because I’m aware that in kind of lots of places, HR would maybe have the influence over things like this. Quite often work with the hiring managers and other people that are making these sort of changes in the work place. And making the kind of push for different maybe area and demographics of people to be welcomed in so I think that’s why it’s so important that this is kind of being piloted with the CIPD Trust because ultimately the people that are on this call today are the people that might actually have quite a lot of influence over who joins their workforce. And it’s really important for us to be able to kind of act as people who can provide information and kind of like you say, bust some myths and answer some questions that are very much fairly held about maybe why it is really important to consider opening up and also being slightly more flexible for people with that status and nor being worried. Sometimes I think when people see a different status, it can be quite worrying and what does that mean? Do I need to sponsor their visa, do I need to do something differently in terms of hiring them? Is there a different contract? And actually, just kind of being able to offer a bit of information about how its actually very straight forward and things like that, is something that I think will be really useful.
Leah: Absolutely! Thanks Bea, that won’t be the last we hear from you. I’ll bring you into the conversation in a minute. I’ll like to ask Anastasia to unmute and join us, and tell us from your personal experience Anastasia, as someone who transitioned to the UK and who has translated their skills to the UK, tell us about that experience and tell us about some of the challenges you faced on arrival.
Anastasia: Thank you, Leah. Welcome everyone. We’ll first of all regarding just to pick up on the previous conversation regarding myths and stereotypes, I am a Ukrainian to came to the UK under the homes for Ukraine scheme in 2022 when the war began. And just to give you a snapshot of my career, I’ve managed a multimillion-dollar company, I’ve been an academic director of a technology management programme and I’ve been a human resource business partner of a large multinational technology company.
So, refugees as we call them, come in different shapes and sizes and experiences and again there’s no way of knowing who you got into this country, until you check and ask an interview these people, so yeah we’ll get there about being open and seeing the potential. Coming back to your question Leah about the translating skills into the UK market, I would say that the first challenge is the feelings and the condition you come in because you are not just migrating for work, you are fleeing from the war, active warfare where you know tanks were riding around your house, so it’s a different situation and probably the first condition I dealt with was probably sleep deprivation because I was a human resource business partner in a large company with 400, over 400 people and right before the war, few months before the war, it was so worrisome to be inside, to be Buchner, near Kiev, that sometimes I just saw myself waking up at 5am, checking the news you know, whether anything is happening, then having a nap an hour before we started work or you know driving children to school.
So, sleep deprivation and it continued, because when the war began I was (inaudible) my capacity and I was evacuating people and some we lost contact with over a month, they were under occupation, so it was like we were restless for quite a bit because you know, we were worried about people, their conditions, their lives. Sleep deprivation is one, facing 2 realities because you’re physically in safety, you’re physically in the UK but your mind because you know, I’ve had 40 years of work and life fully there so facing the 2 realities that in 1 hand you need to keep rolling here and on the other hand you are worried about the people you knew and every day you open the news and you see they bombed something else and you’re like how much more you know, when is it gonna stop.
So being in 2 realities is another challenge, and being homesick of course is part of that and probably also the feeling that you know when hat war begins, you feel like the walls of your house have fallen so all the things you’ve believed in, they’ve, the world turned upside down so its lag time to adapt to the new reality, to realise that it takes a lot of conscious, lots of brain work to understand that this is reality and it’s happening.
So, when we talk about feelings and conditions then that’s one thing. Knowledge, when you transition to a new upmarket is another thing, basically the market research, knowing who the employers are, what is needed, who they need, what skills they need, for instance my family we ended up in the North East of the UK and we first were so excited because there was safety, there was a house, we could sleep, then you exit the door and you’re like where are all the companies where are all the employers and all we saw was pheasants and deer and rabbits and other game, and one pub in the village and not even a shop. So, I’m like ok how am I going to do it, how am I going to pick up my career in this condition. So, not knowing the market, just you know where to move further in the UK, I worked in IT so knowing all the you know, the further steps.
Market research is one. Networking is another one. In my case I moved with 2 teenage children so I cannot move too much far away from them. They’re in school, I have this limited time frame for networking and travelling so building a network in a new place is another thing. And I already mentioned location so even knowing where to move, where the need for qualified labour is another thing.
When we come to skills, I came across some refugees who are in need of English language training and then certifications is another thing so for instance I know very good female who is a children’s dentist, she’s excellent but she came here and she cannot work as a dentist so she studied to be a distributor for a dental products company because she doesn’t have all the certifications but in a way when you look at the person in terms of human potential, that’s a waste of your potential because she is just ideal as a dentist.
So, certifications is definitely a big thing and that’s why I applied for CIPD because that’s the qualification of the HR profession and i need to have it just to be on par with everyone else.
Mentorship, I would say that mentorship is important because thirdly there’s a different culture, different behaviour and attitudes so just you know knowing this new answer helps and local people, local (inaudible) can definitely help new employees adapt better.
And last but not least, there is uncertainty about the legal status so for example, homes for Ukraine. The UK government has given us 3 years so you know 1 and a half of which is gone and then what happens when May 2025 comes, nobody knows. Will we be offered something else, can we apply for asylum, it’s unclear at the moment and again it’s worrisome for us as employees and its worrisome for employers because they don’t know there’s just time to adapt in a company and there’s time to perform. So, at the moment it’s uncertain but still you know, I wouldn’t say its a road block to employ people and for them to be perform during this time.
Leah: Thank you, Anastasia, and I know that’s not the last we’ll hear from you, we’ll involve you in the conversation in a minute but I think some of the things you touched on, were huge and hopefully this webinar is a means to remove that roadblock as you say and help people flourish. I think picking up on some of the things you talked about on market research and network and the power of the network and how a HR professional can make that happen, I’m gonna bring in Hoda know because with you 2 hays Hoda, thinking of you as a HR professional, but as a recipient of mentoring and as a mentor yourself to people in this position, what is the difference that a HR professional can make in that setting because it feels like there’s lots do so tell me about that.
Hoda: Thank you Leah. I think that as HR professionals, what we could do is just creating space and also as HR professionals we don’t make assumptions. Because talking to my mentor for example, a lot of the conversations and barriers she was facing at work, her experience is extensive. She has over 20 years experience, she has more experience than I do but going for roles that were say on a lower level, she was still being turned down because people were assuming she’s originally from Ukraine, therefore doesn’t have the right to work or maybe leaving the job soon so we had to work together a lot about how to work on the CV and I kind of feel like what I was doing was more helping her understand British culture because she has the HR knowledge and its just understanding like this is how we typically write CVs compared to slight differences and tweaks to what people are asking for what expectations that they have for you. But in terms of being a mentee and being a mentor, I think there’s so much like benefit to it. I think I’ve learnt so much about myself and its also kind of, with my mentor she’s challenged me, she’s made me think about long term what do I want to do, what do I want to focus. One thing that I struggle with in HR is like who does HR for HR? And I think that’s the great thing about the mentoring scheme, you have that support, you have that network and as part of the aspiring HR, we even have a cohort, we’re all on each others WhatsApp so that’s great, just helping each other there so I feel like there’s a support system there which is great.
But I think the problem sometimes come down with HR is we always want someone who will hit the ground running and can adapt to a job quite quickly but we have to realise that that too can be a form of discrimination and that is also creating barriers and not seeing the potential that someone from a different lived experience can bring.
Leah: I love that! I think it’s really important what you were talking about then you know we rank quite deliberately about mentoring being a benefit to both sides but you expanded on that really clearly for us Hoda in terms of the learning that you’re getting from the process and that sense of community that hopefully programmes like ours starting in the Autumn with RefuAid and engaging the whole of the people profession will allow us to come together.
I’m going to come to Victoria in a minute but just before I do, just a quick reminder to put your questions in the Q&A, my colleague Zoe is doing a great job of marshalling those and were coming to a few in a moment but that idea of hitting the ground running, some of the common misconceptions, I really want to explore with Victoria because we have recently been put in contact and actually out of all the conversations I’ve had with employers, Victoria has engaged in this space and has some really practical tips to share but I think starting from the beginning, you’ve actively recruited refugees into your own workforce within Macphie, Victoria. But tell us a little bit a about the experience, the benefits but also the challenges you know, people want to hear about some of the stuff that is harder to think about so tell us a little bit about your experience.
Victoria: Thanks Leah. To be fair put experience with it has been relatively simplistic. We’ve just adapted our spaces to make it easier for refugees to enter the workplace. So, we took out the need for CVs and interviews and things like that and tried to move those barriers and essentially what we did was held a bit of an open day where a number of potential candidates could come along, meet our teams, learn more about our business. Those that you know wanted to continue on that journey, we offered a sort of, essentially a paid work trial that they could you know, come and do the job on the (inaudible word) that we had on offer, work with the teams, see what it’s like whilst getting paid for that at the same time so they got sort of real life working experience of doing the process and from that we had you know, really good candidates that stayed with us and after as well which has been fantastic. We couldn’t have done it without the support so we linked in with the Scottish Refugee Council and I’m sure they do similar work to what RefuAid do and I would strongly suggest anyone wanting to go down this path, link in with an organisation like RefuAid and they will absolutely guide you and keep you on the right path. For us they did thing like, understanding English abilities. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be in a session where we had anybody with no English language for health and safety reasons did they need to communicate with us and that’s where the Scottish refugee Council came in and they felt our doubt that side of it and then we got candidates from there as well.
Leah: Brilliant! I mean there’s a couple of things that come out from there that I love, the first being that your approach was to make the whole process just a but more human and as you say, remove some of the barriers that existed that for many people assume that you have to use a cv that you have to have (inaudible as video gets stuck for a moment) so in as you say, fairly simplistic terms it was a change that you could make readily as a HR professional to make that process more human so that’s something that people can take away. I loved what you said about partnership there Victoria because I think that’s critical and for us at the CIPD Trust, we do not have access to this untapped pool of talents we have to rely on expert partners, like RefuAid, like the Scottish and English Refugee Council so that’s a really huge part of what we do.
What would your advice be to other employers because I think going back to Bea’s point, there’s a lot of nervousness maybe, people need some reassurance and confidence in this space. Having done it, are there key things you’d say to other employers?
Victoria: I mean yeah for sure I’d absolutely do it again. We’ve got our, some amazing candidates through the process and Anastasia’s been saying that you know refugees is just the title that’s put on this group of people, but they’re highly skilled, highly educated, very competent people that come in and do a fantastic job. We aimed at initially a sort of production level, sort of on floor job roles. A couple of employees came in and did it initially but very quickly we had seen that they had much more to offer the business and they’ve moved roles and one gentleman is now a skilled engineer what is notoriously a difficult position for us to fill so being able to find that experience and qualification that we could then transfer these skills over to the match our areas was fantastic. And so, you know for me it was a no brainer really it was fantastic and it really worked well for our teams as well.
Leah: That’s brilliant. And one thing that Victoria hasn’t mentioned is that in terms of other challenges you have rural and transportation challenges where you are based so again it’s about looking at untapped pool of talent to help that process enrich tour workforce. Brilliant.
Victoria: Yeah. We’ve got 2 sites and predominantly we piloted the programme in our Glasgow site but we’re looking to more up to our Aberdeenshire site as well and that’s where we’re finding the bigger barriers where you know, a lot of the population don’t necessarily have readily available transport so we’re looking at what other ways can we get around that and what can we do to support and make that commute a bit easier.
Leah: Absolutely and I think that’s the part where HR professionals can make that difference. And Anastasias point if you look at it, seeing deer and pheasants and trying to navigate the local landscape, what can we do to remove barriers in those instances? I’m going to pause there because we are starting to get questions in and actually Bea, we’ve got a question that I think you might want to start answering first. They’re asking about are there sort of trends in terms of skills and expertise that you see when people arrive in the UK. Are there particular demands for certain skills and expertise?
Bea: yeah so thank you. So, we work with many different professions. About half of our clients out of the, we’ve supported 1600 now and half of those people have been health care professionals and students, and also within that there’s engineers, accountants, HR professionals, anything varying from HGV drivers to teachers, loads of different things. Quite often what we find is that they may have a master’s degree which isn’t necessarily something that the UK would demand for some of those roles and that’s something that can be quite challenging because people might come to the UK, 20 years of experience, master’s degree but actually there’s still more things that they need to do and they want to return to their work like what other people have touched on earlier.
The kind of other trends I think, it seems to be that some employers might actually, from some countries and some peoples home countries, more experience than qualifications and skills and actually we identify that’s not the case. People quire often have very critical qualifications, whether that be master’s degree or bachelor’s degree and a variety of other qualifications as well, so in terms of trends yeah people are often highly skilled, highly experienced and highly qualified. Out of the people that we’ve supported and it is just a matter of being able to translate those across. And I think something really interesting I was just thinking when Victoria was speaking, a little bit about the benefits that it can bring to your business and company as well. Just looking at the contributions that our clients have made, and I guess you can kind of scale that maybe more widely. Out of the 200 people we’ve supported in their return to work that’s commenced from skills and experience, 4 they had access to our finance programme. They were contributing between them around £100,000 in tax whereas now its over 1.5 million.
Bea: So, when you look at kind of the other end of it as well, it’s not only that talent pool it’s also in terms of its economically feasible and viable and actually some of the bigger corporate companies that we’ve worked with, being able to kind of show them that as well is something that’s very important. Something to look at the stats behind it as well.
Leah: Absolutely! I mean that’s a huge business benefit right there. As well as Victoria sort of touched on the 10-year sort of promotional aspects of it, someone coming into the business with a high level of skills that can actually be translated.
Hoda I’m going to come to you next, then I’ve got a couple of questions for Victoria and Anastasia. From your perspective, we’ve talked about the benefits of mentoring and we’ve got a very clear answer at the end of this webinar about how people might want to get involved in the profession. What would you say to anyone thinking about mentoring and wanting to get involved. What would your advice be?
Hoda: anyone that would be interested, I would strongly recommend it because I feel like I’ve gained more through mentoring than I have through studying and working. I think it allows you to be vulnerable. It allows you to ask those questions that you may not feel like you can ask at work because you’re worried about how you put yourself forward and one of the biggest things I was sort of struggling with is imposter syndrome and the first thing Elaine, my mentor was like, we’re gonna get rid of that! That’s the first interaction we had so it was really helpful. I think it’s also understanding that with mentoring or being a mentee is that it works both ways and you gain, just as much as you give is what you gain. So, I think it’s really beneficial and I think there’s such a support system within the whole sort of scheme and you come out gaining a lot more than you think you would. And it’s not something that you can kind of get through studying or reading through text books or things like that. Its like coaching and also having support and a friend in one.
Leah: Absolutely! I love that answer. Victoria I think one of the challenges we have in the Trust and more widely in this space is, how to offer that sort of reassurance and confidence to employers and really exciting them by the proposal and reassuring them that it can be done. Webinars like today are a really useful way of doing that. Is there anything you would have found useful as an employer, sort of crossing your mind back with the hindsight that we could ploy. We’re trying to get more employers behind this, do you think?
Victoria: Yeah, I suppose for me it would be communication on a wider level so it’s (inaudible word) the population coming in, but would also need to think about the population that are already in the business and what impact it has on them and helping then to understand as well. As Anastasia and Hoda have mentioned, when you’re coming from these situations, there are other considerations there. These guys haven’t just moved for their own (inaudible word) they have had to come across fleeing you know. Like situations in some cases and that’s going to have an impact so you need to equip your teams and the people that are coming in with good well being resources and support networks and mechanisms and that as well. I suppose a better more understanding and a better more front foot of having these things available for all that would be one thing that I’d say everyone needs to consider.
Leah: Definitely and that’s really sound advice. And Anastasia, coming to you I guess that to sort of round things up, bearing in mind your sort of experiences which I think you’ve articulated very well for the people on this call to better understand your situation and how employers and the people itself can help. What would you want to sew done differently? What support would you want to see available for somebody making that very difficult and forced transition that’s been clear, to the UK?
Anastasia: Well as a HR professional myself I really believe in human potential I guess its limitless. We as humans can do a lot and achieve a lot together so I would encourage fellow HR professionals to see the potential. Basically, the refugees is like a goldmine. Everybody is looking for gold now and human potential is a goldmine so the refugees are hardworking, motivated, it’s not only about the money it’s also about the self esteem in the new place. So, seeing the potential is the first thing. The second thing is proactively searching for them because the job centres know us all in face, we had to address the job centres when we arrived so the social workers from the local council know where the refugees are, they know exactly because they visit us. There are also groups on Facebook and Telegram to give you an idea. There is Ukrainians in that who have worked in the IT sector who have AI skills, I mean coding skills, you name it. So, there’s a whole group on Telegram, people looking for work.
There’s also a group of graduates of an American Exchange programme who are based in the UK now so they have fluent English and they’re from all walks of life. So, there are way to reach them, if you don’t know how to reach them but you need Ukrainians, reach me out, I’ll connect LinkedIn and I’ll show you where theses groups are, I can just post. There are also Facebook groups for Ukrainians and for English homes for Ukrainians, all Ukrainians are also there. So, we are easily findable, we are not hiding. So, need to proactively search for Ukrainians or other refugees to employ. I am more aware of the situation related to my country. Show opportunities, so for example, you know some jobs were demanded in our country and some jobs were demanded here. Show opportunities where quick learners, if we need to learn nuclear physics, we’ll learn it it’s no problem. You know, we have mathematicians, we have engineers, we have people who know languages, who know technology. It’s not a problem to learn something new.
And then last but not least is be understanding. Just to give you a practical example, since I arrived I was involved with the British Army that’s training a lot of Ukrainian soldiers in the UK. It’s not all over the news and there are a number of Ukrainian people helping there because they need interpreters and people who know the culture and just help those with their language skills. So, there was a young woman who has excellent English, very capable and then they played a Ukrainian hymn in the morning when we have a minute of silence at 9am and she just burst into tears. So of course, everybody who was there didn’t, you know, they looked like is she ok? Is she mentally OK? But I could relate to that totally because you know, for us now it’s still on-going and you feel like you are from the red book. You are a species that can be extinct. Somebody is trying to kill you now. So, in that sense be understanding, it’s not that we have mental issues, it still hurts. You know what the army is trying to do to us.
So yeah basically be understanding and accommodating and just give time. Because time cures and it will pass but at the moment it’s a wound that still hurts. Yeah.
Leah: and do you know what, those are very powerful words. Thank you for sharing that. It can’t be easy but to echo what you say the human potential is limitless. I think that’s probably the best quote to sum up today. I could talk to all of you for much longer but I’m conscious of time and I think you fielded all our questions brilliantly. What I am gonna do in a moment is hand back to Jemeela so close up today’s session but I’d like to say thank you to Bea, to Hoda, to Victoria and to Anastasia for sharing your personal experience but also some really practical things we can do. I think what’s up to us now is to hand that bat over to the people profession, work with the trust to see how we can make some change here and effect real change and I think a few of you said it before, not least the human potential is limitless but HR has the power to make the changes to policies, practices and perceptions.
So, a huge thank you to our speakers. I’ll let you turn your cameras off and breathe easy for a bit and we’ll catch up after this but thank you so much and back to Jemeela for a little wrap up. Thank you.
Jemeela: Brilliant! Thank you so much Leah. And yeah I think that’s something that’s gonna really stick with me in terms of what Anastasia said about that human potential and actually this is really all about what we’re going to talk about in a moment so let me just get the slides up in a sec but it’s really about helping individuals and really reach that human potential. I hope everybody got a lot out of that panel session. I know I definitely did, there’s definitely some things I’ll take away with me so you’ve got much from the today as well.
But to wrap up and really kind of, the real call to action today because I’m sure many of you will have learnt something this afternoon and also really want to know how can I get involved and what can I do to support.
So, you’ve heard from Bea, and we are working very closely with RefuAid, we have been on our bursary programme and now we are also about to launch our mentoring pilot and the idea of this is to really support people who are refugees who are newly in a role and to provide mentoring support to help them get the best chance of success and support with that transition into the UK. You heard from Anastasia earlier, you heard some of the challenges that people are facing who are in this situation but actually they still have a huge amount to offer and I think one of the things that I really took away from this is really don’t make assumptions about the people who find themselves in this situation, who are dealing with the challenges that comes with becoming a refugee and being understanding about that but this mentoring will really focus on what you can bring as people professionals and your skill sets. So, really about that knowledge about the world of work and helping people to navigate that whole kind of change in and how we work in sort of the UK and UK workplace.
How you can help the people navigate some of the challenges and understand how working places work and the kind of culture in those kinds of things and help these individuals have a best chance of success and helping them build their confidence and really be able to navigate working in a very new environment so we will be looking for up to 10 mentors to support 10 of RefuAids clients that they’re working with. So, we really want you to get involved and what will happen is an expression of interest form will be going into the chat very shortly. So if you’re interested in getting involved, please fill that out as soon as you can and then we will follow up with having a brief call with you, just kind of having a brief chat with you and then from there we will decide who the 10 mentors will be and if we end up with more mentors than we need then we’ll think about what we’re going to do in terms of that, whether we support more people, whether there’s more opportunities you can get involved in but we need your interest and we need you to sign up so please, please. My colleague Zoe has put in the expression of interest form in the chat now so if you click that link and complete that, that would be fantastic and I hope as many of you as possible want to get involved. This is just the start; this is just the pilot and we’re hoping to get much more in the future and hopefully everything you’ve heard today has really inspired you to come and get involved.
Very briefly, I’ll just give you an idea of what the timeliness will be, so obviously we’re asking you to register your interest now, we’ll confirm mentors over the course of the next few weeks. We will be running another session with RefuAid too, which is going to be a bit more of an info session to mentors who will be taking part in the pilot and this is just a chance to get a bit more understanding and help set you up in the best way possible and give you a chance to ask any questions that you might have in terms of getting started and things to think about and really just help you, set you up as well as we can before the mentoring starts.
We will be hoping to introduce you to the, the mentors to the mentees before Christmas so you can at least have that initial introduction with a view for the mentoring to really kick off in the new year in 2024, can’t believe I’m saying that already, and our mentoring is expected to take place over around 6 months. Normally meeting around fortnightly is what we recommend but obviously it’s a pilot so we need to see how this works. And obviously we will be keeping in touch with you and being there as a kind of contact point throughout the pilot with a view to complete it within the summer and think what’s next, but obviously we’d want to hear from mentors as we’re going through. So, I hope this gives an idea of what we, how we work. So, all that we want you to do is complete that expression of interest form, get in touch with us and hopefully some of you will be taking part in the pilot, which is really exciting and a really, hopefully tangible way you can get involved now.
So, I think the only thing that remains that we’re gonna run over quick, just to check in with you and see what you got out of the session and we will also, I know a few people had to leave early and I’ve seen lots of amazing comments as well in the chat, there’s been great discussions so that’s been brilliant. We will share the slides afterwards and we will send a follow up email as well. So even for those people who had to sign off early, they will also get the link to that expression of interest form.
So, the poll has just been launched, so if I could just ask everyone to complete that and then we can wrap up. I think people are submitting. Brilliant. I think answers are still getting through.
Our question was that following today’s session, so you feel more informed about supporting refugees in work? And I can see everybody so far has said yes which is exactly what we wanted so all that remains to say is thank you so much for your time this afternoon. Complete that expression of interest form if you’re interested in becoming a mentor and supporting our pilot with RefuAid and keep in touch with us if you want to know more about what we’re doing and if you have any questions so thank you very much. And massive thanks as well to our amazing panel, it was a really stimulating discussion and I hope you all got something out of it. So, thank you to Leah for chairing it. Thank you to Bea from RefuAid, Anastasia for sharing her very personal experience, Hoda for sharing both being the mentor and mentee and also Victoria for sharing a bit more about what they’ve been doing at Macphie which we think was really interesting. So, thank you.