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New Partnership aims to Tackle Skills Shortage

A new partnership has been formed to help employers overcome skill shortages and to give refugees and migrants the ability to develop and adapt their skills for the UK labour market. Progress GB was set up after many noticed that refugees and migrants have a wide range of skills and qualifications in a variety of professions but frequently remain unemployed or gain only low-skilled, casual employment. At the same time employers in the UK are unable to fill vacancies in a variety of areas such as construction, transport, engineering and health and social care.

To meet this challenge, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and partner organisations across the country have decided to launch Progress GB. Jean Kouchou Fondjo, a civil engineer originally from Cameroon, said: “This project will be very helpful for people like me, as it will enable us to gain recognition for our skills and find work that makes use of those skills.”

Widespread Praise

Jean is not alone in her praise of the program. Vicki Ball, the Director of Workforce Development said: “Properly qualified refugees and migrant workers play a key role in keeping the passenger transport industries working effectively. We have a serious shortage of skilled workers and without the contribution of migrant workers and refugees as drivers, many of our transport companies will be unable to provide a full service to the public.”

The Progress GB Partnership is in part funded by the European Social Fund under the Equal Community Initiative Programme. The launch of the program coincides with the start of National Refugee Week, from the 20th to 26th of June 2005. Sue Waddington, Progress GB Project Leader states: “Refugees and migrant workers are often highly skilled and highly motivated but can find it very difficult to find progress in the UK workplace. Progress GB will be able to develop new approaches to benefit both employers and refugees across the UK. We will help refugees into jobs, predominately where there is a current shortage of skilled workers.”

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Brooke Van Dam

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