Labour market conditions in the UK create significant barriers for refugees seeking employment. These include: ethnic and racialised penalties, barriers related to immigration controls, barriers related to employers’ perceptions of these controls and the effects of the ‘hostile environment’. As a result, refugees are more likely to be unemployed or under-employed than a British citizen. GLIMER Stakeholders reported the same trends in Scotland. Access to the labour market for displaced migrants in Scotland is governed by the UK’s devolved settlement. Though the Scottish Government is unable to intervene in labour market issues related to immigration status, it has scope to intervene in educational aspects of employability support (such as skills development, some academic training and English Language provision). As a result of its ‘from day one’ integration policy, these services are available to both asylum seekers and refugees, a distinction from other parts of the UK. GLIMER Research identifies three key areas impacting labour market access for refugees in Scotland: (1) employability training and skills development (2) enterprise and entrepreneurship and (3) employer training and engagement. Provision for employability training and skills development is the most comprehensively developed of these areas, spanning the third, public and Further Education sectors. However, stakeholders in the third sector reported limited resources, which resulted in insufficient provision for demand. i. Stakeholders reported that there were additional barriers for refugee women wishing to access employability services, but a total absence of specialised services for refugee women. ii. Resettlement teams in remote and rural areas reported difficulties in accessing organisations with refugee employability specialisms, the large majority of which are based in Glasgow. Enterprise and entrepreneurship is an emerging area of policy interest in Scotland. However, GLIMER Research urges caution against viewing the use of enterprise services as a panacea for the adverse employability conditions for refugees. i. Stakeholders involved in the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, particularly those in remote and rural areas, reported that enterprise pathways had potential to (a) fill gaps in the local labour market (b) provide careers in environments where local employability options may be limited. However, stakeholders cautioned against a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to enterprise in Resettlement areas, and stressed the need for policy that recognised local conditions. ii. GLIMER Research finds that existing public Enterprise and Entrepreneurship services are inconsistent in their support for refugees. Stakeholders reported that successful refugee enterprises had been developed in collaboration with Business Gateway; however, they also reported that the success of this collaboration had been the result of dedicated local actors, rather a nationally-supported strategy. iii. At the time of research, local Business Gateway representatives only offered ‘mainstreamed’ enterprise support, with some local authorities insisting on a ‘no-interpretation’ policy and ‘high growth’ financing caveats. This meant that specific barriers faced by refugees, including those related to finance and English language competence, were not actively being addressed. GLIMER Research found that engagement with employers was the least developed of the labour market support areas. It suggests that though employability services provide much-needed support to refugees, labour market barriers will not be addressed unless employers actively engage with contributory conditions and practices in their own organisations. i. The third sector has sought to engage private sector employers. Activities have involved (a) employer training programmes to address indirect barriers to refugee recruitment and retention and (b) brokering programmes between third sector organisations and private sector employers. ii. Successful brokering programmes have resulted in refugee employment in multinational, national and local businesses in urban and rural areas in Scotland. However, stakeholders noted, their successes were constrained by the limited capacity of their organisations and would strongly benefit from Scottish Government support. English language competency has frequently been cited as a barrier to the labour market for refugees. In Scotland, service providers have taken two divergent approaches to this issue: i. Some English language programmes have been tailored to specific employability sectors. These have provided refugees with practical language tools, especially in highly specialised sectors. However, stakeholders reported that as these programmes required participants to have an accredited ESOL qualification, barriers to access remained. ii. In some Resettlement areas, Resettlement teams had worked with employers to remove overly restrictive English language requirements. Resettlement teams argued that (a) some vocations did not require accredited English skills and that (b) refugees learned English more effectively ‘on the job’. One Resettlement team credited the removal of such stringent English language requirements with their unprecedented employability rate of 80%.

DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.5082847