May 30, 2022

Supporting Afghan refugees into employment in The Netherlands

SPARK is supporting 36 Afghan former employees of the Netherlands embassy in Kabul to secure employment and learn Dutch language in the Netherlands.

The group of employees, plus their families (206 people in total), were evacuated on 22nd August to the Netherlands by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have now received refugee status in the Netherlands.

On request of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SPARK is working with Tempo-Team and USG Restart, the largest job coaching organisations in the Netherlands with years of experience of guiding people distant from the labour market towards work. Together, SPARK, Tempo-Team and USG Restart have already successfully guided a number of refugees to work. The rest of the group is currently part of an intensive programme to guide them towards a sustainable job in the Netherlands.

Tahmeena Sattari, 28-year-old former Gender Advisor at the Dutch embassy in Kabul (whose journey to the Netherlands was documented in an op-ed published by De Trouw), said from the refugee centre in Heumensoord in Gelderland: “I don’t know the job market here, who to ask, what to do. With SPARK, we are now doing the personality assessments to match us to jobs here. It brought up things I didn’t know about myself, it was a big help. I hope people will not look down upon us because of where we come from. We can really contribute. I am passionate about women’s rights, I hope I can work in a similar field to the one I was working in Afghanistan. I feel it [the Netherlands] is like home and I want to add value and give back to the Dutch people.”

Yannick du Pont, CEO of SPARK, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide much-needed support for these skilled and hardworking people during the most difficult time in their lives. Having served the Netherlands abroad, it is only fitting they receive the appropriate support to integrate into Dutch society following their evacuation. The group is now residing in camps in the Netherlands awaiting their refugee status. They are looking forward to getting back to work and learning Dutch. We hope this programme will showcase the incredible contribution that Afghans can make to the Dutch society and economy”.

SPARK’s refugee job placement model provides the Afghans with intensive Dutch language courses; conducts assessments of their skills and capabilities; analyses appropriate employment sectors in the Netherlands; sources potential companies and employers; matches candidates to suitable vacancies; provides job skills training via an education provider; and one-to-one coaching and supervision during their initial employment period.

Since 2001, SPARK has been supporting Afghans with higher education and entrepreneurship development through collaborations with the University of Kabul and the Afghanistan Ministry of Higher Education, a programme supporting Dutch/Afghan diaspora entrepreneurs, and most recently, a feasibility study to open a Business Support Centre in Kabul due to the lack of incubation services available. SPARK is also planning to re-deploy its post-secondary education and job creation programming in Afghanistan, working in a consortium of Western and Gulf donors and organisations.

SPARK’s refugee job placement model has proven successful when applied to a similar programme supporting Syrian refugees in Turkey. There, the model has ensured that candidates enter the job market within 6 months. Besides job placement, SPARK helps refugees learn the language of the host society upon arrival.