Employment Programme for Refugee Women

Female refugees face many challenges accessing employment opportunities in Ireland, which can include knowledge deficits of how the Irish labour market and recruitment process works, non-recognition of prior work experience or qualifications, limited English language skills, or a lack of childcare supports. Difficulties in finding work are often compounded by the experience of ‘institutionalization’ under the Direct Provision system.

As part of its integration work, the Irish Refugee Council launched a pilot programme in 2018 aimed at addressing  barriers to employment. This programme was funded by the Dormant Accounts Fund through Pobal on behalf of the Department of Justice and Equality.

The IRC Employment Programme aims to assist people by providing pre-employment training in a peer-supported environment. Having completed this training, women receive one-to-one support with the Employment Officer to support them in their individual progression towards employment or further education. Some are assigned a mentor, English language volunteer, supported work placement or voluntary post. It is envisaged that after receiving this support, participants will be in a better position to retain stable employment in an area reflective of their skills, education and interests.

“Meeting other women from different backs with similar challenges to mine was amazing -we shared stories and ideas and for once my situation (being unemployed) wasn’t such a big issue but a process of learning. The planning was very good and the topics we covered where all relevant. The employment program gave me back the confidence to go out and get what I believed in and what I wanted. It turned out there was something to learn even in CV writing! I am grateful for the opportunity I got to attend this program and I would encourage other unemployed women to attend future programs.”

As of September 2019, the Project has supported 52 women to prepare for a return to employment. 20 women have secured either full or part-time employment, including some who have set up their own businesses. The remainder are continuing their training or education in pursuit of better career prospects for the future.

For more information, to volunteer your time as either a mentor or English language volunteer, or  if you are an employer interested in engaging with this programme, please contact our Employment Officer, Greta Keegan: greta@irishrefugeecouncil.ie