July 20, 2016

Connecting refugees to work with online platforms

A first-of-its kind pilot project was launched this month by SPARK and Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB), a U.S based NGO. The website, TBB’s Talent Catalog, is a critical step in TBB and SPARK’s broader efforts to improve the lives of refugees. It will do this by connecting global private-sector employers to this overlooked talent pool. Together they hope to catalogue 10,000 profiles of refugees living in Jordan and Lebanon within six months, providing an unprecedented look at their skills. The site is designed to solicit information from refugees about their education, language capabilities, work experiences and professional credentials.

Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) is a Washington D.C. based non-profit, founded in 2014 by Mary Louise Cohen and Bruce Cohen to expand labor mobility for refugees.

‘Until now there has been no effective effort to find private sector employment opportunities globally for skilled refugees’ says founder, Mary Louise Cohen. ‘Talent Beyond Boundaries is changing that. Using labor migration could provide opportunities at livelihoods and self-sufficiency for thousands of refugee families.’

For many refugees, the pathway proposed by Talent Beyond Boundaries could be life altering. Inleel, an environmental and water engineer living as a refugee in Jordan said: ‘If I found an opportunity to work in my field abroad, of course I would go, no question. There should be some kind of legal system or pathway to help refugees to work in another country.’

Nazar Poladin, who helped design the Talent Catalog, is himself a highly skilled Syrian refugee who spent time in Lebanon before being resettled in Toronto last year. He has collaborated with the TBB team to design a Catalog that would be user-friendly and capture the information the companies need to see.

Refugee outreach volunteers will help spread the word about the Talent Catalog by explaining the aims of the initiative and walking their peers through the process of creating a profile. The site is available in both Arabic and English and is available through a link.

Historic numbers of refugees lack access to work and, as a result, struggle to support themselves and their families. At the same time, there are labor shortages and skill gaps around the world that refugees could help to meet. The Talent Catalog will highlight the depth and breadth of talent in the refugee population to employers in need of their skills.

Related news