A report published by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) – in partnership with the Refugee Investment Network today – reveals that only 3% of London businesses employed a refugee in their organisation.
However, this figure rose to 14% for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) and 27% for large businesses.
The report measured business attitudes which provided insights into the current landscape of refugee employment by London businesses. While refugees have the legal right to work in the UK, they often struggle with local professional networks, language skills, certifications, and integration support to realise their full potential in the job market.
21% of surveyed London businesses cited finding qualified refugee employees as the biggest barrier to hiring a refugee. The second most common obstacle reported by 20% of the businesses is the lack of knowledge associated with recruitment of refugees as opposed to concerns about refugee employees themselves.
The key highlights from the survey are as follows:
- 31% of firms said they would hire a refugee in the future, compared to 41% who said it was unlikely and 26% who did not know.
- Depending on the size of the organisation, 77% of large businesses said it was likely they would hire refugees in the future, compared to just 32% of micro firms.
- Arts, entertainment, recreation, information and communication, and the public sector industries reported the highest rate of refugee employment at 6%. While professional, scientific, and technical industries reported the lowest rate of refugee employment at 1%.
- 65% of London business who employed refugees said their main motivation behind hiring refugees were to provide support followed by 47% of businesses who believed that refugees are hardworking employees. 40% of London businesses believed that refugees brought unique skills to their businesses and encouraged diversity in the team.
Richard Burge, Chief Executive Officer at London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, “London’s very success is based upon its openness and diversity. For the business community, at a time when skills gaps are holding back business and economic growth, refugees can prove to be great assets to the London economy.
“The positive impact that employment can have on refugees and their communities is multi-fold and presents magnificent opportunities for London to boost its status as a great, global city with equal opportunities for all.
“LCCI’s survey reveals that London businesses are capable of stepping up to the job of employing refugees if given the right support and resources when it comes to assistance with recruitment process, social and cultural integration as well as mental health support. Refugees can help revive the London economy not just by addressing skills shortages but by also leading the way for diversity and inclusion at workplace.”
Tim Docking, Chief Executive Officer at Refugee Investment Network said, “Numerous countries are struggling to respond to large inflows of displaced people, who in turn, often find themselves displaced for decades, unable to join the formal market. Compounding this challenge is a common narrative that refugees present a burden on society.
“The UK currently has a tremendous opportunity to help change this false narrative while unlocking refugee self-reliance through Refugee Lens Investing (RLI). As the promising new LCCI/RIN study, “Employing Refugees: Measuring business attitudes in London” shows, there is both growing interest from the private sector and unmet demand for refugee data.
“This study begins to address the data gap, thus, setting an important precedent for further RLI research.”
The survey highlighted that refugee employment among London business community remained very low and concrete steps need to be taken to encourage employment. There is significant room for improvement and if the rate of refugee employment is to be increased, businesses will need additional support. This would include information on legal requirements of firms when recruiting refugees, and how to adapt processes when recruiting and supporting refugee employees.
Another way identified by the report to increase refugee employment is through boosting connections to refugee communities, and more active matching and collaboration between workforce gaps and refugee training and support programs.