New partnership tackles refugee unemployment and UK’s digital skills gap

Barclays LifeSkills, LinkedIn, and Microsoft form unique partnership with Breaking Barriers

Barclays LifeSkills, LinkedIn, and Microsoft partner with Breaking Barriers to tackle refugee unemployment and UK’s digital skills gap

In a ground-breaking initiative to address refugee unemployment and the digital skills gap in the UK, Barclays LifeSkills, LinkedIn, and Microsoft have announced a unique partnership with Breaking Barriers, a leading refugee employment charity.

Ground-breaking collaboration

The collaboration, launched before June’s World Refugee Day (20th) and Refugee Week (19th), seeks to provide refugees with the necessary skills and opportunities to overcome employment barriers in the digital age.

The partnership comes in response to a challenge issued by Andy Haldane, the former chief economist of the Bank of England, who urged UK businesses to embrace migrant talent to boost the economy.

With refugees being four times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the UK population and employers struggling to find individuals with the required digital skills for tech-enabled roles, the need for action has become more pressing.

Bridging the skills gap

Microsoft’s general manager of Corporate, External and Legal Affairs, Hugh Milward, highlights the urgency of addressing the shortage of digital skills: “Our economy and potential as a nation is being held back by the shortage of digital skills; skills which are increasingly a requirement in a modern labour market.

“To address this challenge, it is critical that we widen our talent pool and ensure that communities most at risk of being left behind have access to the skills and opportunity to thrive in this digital economy.”

The new Breaking Barriers programme, “Unlocking Refugee Talent,” aims to provide a comprehensive support package to refugees ready to enter the job market or those needing additional skills development.

Breaking barriers

Recognising the digital literacy barrier faced by refugees, the programme will address this issue by combining the resources of Barclays LifeSkills, LinkedIn’s job search and coaching programme, and Microsoft’s Skills for Jobs and digital certifications.

Participants in the programme will gain access to a wide range of courses and resources designed to develop the skills required for in-demand tech roles and core transferable employability skills that incorporate technology.

By leveraging the expertise and offerings of the partnering organisations, Breaking Barriers aims to help refugees find meaningful employment while simultaneously filling the digital skills gap in the UK workforce.

Matt Powell, chief executive of Breaking Barriers, emphasises the significance of digital skills in employment: “A lack of digital skills can be a significant barrier to employment for any job hunter. For refugees, the digital skills obstacle is further exacerbated as they find it four times harder to access work.

“Unlocking Talent is breaking down the digital skills barrier by drawing on the resources, talent, and offers of all the partners. Together, we aim to help refugees find meaningful employment while also starting to fill a UK-wide workforce gap in digital skills.”

Overcoming refugee unemployment challenges

Barclays, known for its commitment to developing employability skills, is excited to be part of the Unlocking Refugee Talent programme. Kirstie Mackey, managing director of UK & Europe Citizenship at Barclays, comments: “Barclays LifeSkills helps people to develop the crucial, core, transferable employability skills needed for the workplace, alongside digital skills.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Breaking Barriers on the Unlocking Refugee Talent programme, and supporting refugees to be better placed to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them in the workplace and secure employment.” 

LinkedIn, a platform renowned for its professional networking capabilities, recognises the importance of comprehensive support for job-ready refugees. Ngaire Moyes, LinkedIn UK country manager, states: “Through partnerships like this, we are able to provide a well-rounded approach to helping job-ready refugees secure work and strengthen their global professional networks as they settle into life in a new country.

“Our employee-led and delivered employability programme was designed with opportunities such as these in mind by offering job seekers a range of learning resources on the LinkedIn platform.”

The Unlocking Refugee Talent programme is set to run over the next 18 months and aims to support 250 individuals. Refugees self-referred or referred to Breaking Barriers are eligible to participate in the programme.

With the combined efforts of Barclays LifeSkills, LinkedIn, and Microsoft, along with the expertise of Breaking Barriers, this innovative collaboration strives to create a brighter future for refugees by providing them with the skills and opportunities needed to thrive in the digital economy.

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