opinion piece

BLOG – Bridging the Gap: Helping Refugees Build Bridges to The Future

What are the priorities for displaced workers and what support can recruitment and HR services professionals provide? This was just one of the topical discussion topics at the 2022 World Employment Conference in Brussels. And feedback from the session identified five key pillars that will drive future bridge-building activities and grow the industry’s social impact.

Published on 24th June 2022

National recruitment federations and global HR services providers have taken a lead in responding to the war in Ukraine and refugee crises in other parts of the world. These ‘lived’ experiences provide lessons for future influence and impact in the following areas:

  • Building partnerships – The industry’s contribution can grow exponentially if the right relationships are in place. Agostino Di Maio, General Manager of Assolavoro, provided a first-hand example of this at the Brussels conference by sharing details of the Italian sectoral Agreement for refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine. Private sector representative bodies working hand in hand with trade union organisations sends a powerful message. Equally powerful is positive endorsement for the industry’s role from respected international organisations such as UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency). Looking ahead, nurturing partnerships on a global, national, regional and sectoral level will amplify the industry’s voice and create genuine breakthroughs.

 

  • Demonstrating social impactWojciech Spychalski, Senior Manager for Digital Transformation at GI Group, gave a vivid account of how a global business responded at speed to the unfurling crisis in Ukraine (particularly, parts of the organisation over the border in Poland). This included the creation of a specific task-force to support displaced workers. Looking to the future, one take-away lesson is that it is impossible to fully plan and anticipate everything. BUT an industry based on flexibility and agility and is uniquely placed to intervene at pace whenever there is a need. The aim is to remain on the front foot in showcasing this social impact.

 

  • Skills matching – Most refugees want to create new ties. The HR services profession is uniquely placed to take a lead on skills matching and helping displaced workers find employment. National federations have a huge convening and galvanising role to play. Uncertainty around how long workers will stay can create problems for some employers, but this is where temporary work services can provide a vital outlet. In volatile times, flexible working options are more important than ever for both employers and individuals.

 

  • Influencing government policy – UNHCR’s Nada Omeira underlined the sheer scale of the challenge ahead – the number of people forcibly displaced around the world is set to reach 100 million. National federations must remain at the forefront of influencing government policy on refugees; this was the point made by REC Deputy Chief Executive Kate Shoesmith at the conference in Brussels. Creating the right policy and regulatory framework – on refugees as well as on other social and employment priorities – will provide a platform for the HR services industry to use its expertise and energy to maximum effect.

 

  • Being a ‘profession of choice’ – Taking a lead on helping displaced workers and making a social impact on a whole range of other priority issues will play a significant role in promoting careers in the sector. In the words of ERF CEO Geraldine King “we need to recognise the fact that we are now a genuine profession, one that people feel pride in working for”. Taking an active role on major social issues of the day is the hallmark of a profession of choice.

 

The global employment and HR services profession is first and foremost a people industry. And nowhere is this more important, nowhere is this more urgent than in providing help to individuals and families who has been displaced through war and other cataclysmic events. Bridging the gap from a difficult present to a better future is not a one-off occurrence. It is not an event, it is an ongoing process. And is at the heart of what the global HR services sector times is all about.

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