Mayor urged to reduce barriers to work for asylum seekers and refugees

London Assembly suggests City Hall work with employers to develop specialised training programmes, reports Noah Vickers, Local Democracy Reporter

Palmers Green Job Centre
Palmers Green Job Centre

Sadiq Khan has been urged by City Hall politicians to help reduce the barriers faced by some of London’s most marginalised communities in finding jobs.

In a set of two letters to the mayor, the London Assembly’s economy committee has made several recommendations, which it says will allow more people to become part of the capital’s workforce.

The committee’s first letter focuses on the barriers to work faced by asylum seekers and refugees. Among other proposals, it suggests that Khan work with London employers to develop training programmes that provide technical language skills to asylum seekers and refugees for specific professions.

It also warns that asylum seekers and refugees are particularly at risk of digital exclusion when it comes to accessing job opportunities, with a recommendation that the mayor lobby the government to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers have access to appropriate digital devices and support.

The second letter looks at how people who have had contact with the criminal justice system can be helped into London’s workforce.

Committee chair Hina Bokhari said this group of people were likelier than most to be struggling with several barriers to work, including prejudice from employers, substance misuse, mental and physical health issues, disability, neurodiversity, poor basic skills, and a fear of stigma that prevents them from applying for jobs in the first place.

Among other recommendations, the letter says Khan should convene London employers in order to share experiences and best practice around hiring people who have had contact with the criminal justice system, such as planning prison visits for recruitment drives, similar to the successful model used by the retailer Timpson.

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