In 2018, there were 86 working-age adults in the Syrian New Scots’ community in Aberdeenshire. Most were engaged in volunteer work but only three were in employment. Covid-19 halted almost all volunteering opportunities, but employment levels have significantly increased. By 2021, two-thirds of working-age New Scots’ were in part-time or full-time employment, thanks in part to a dedicated Employability Keyworker for the group, who has assisted clients to overcome previous issues including rural isolation, language barriers and digital exclusion.
Summary from HFINES 2018
As of March 2018, 131 Syrian New Scots have settled in Aberdeenshire as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme and the Vulnerable Children’s Relocation Scheme. Of the 86 adults of working age, three were employed, 29 were seeking work, 15 were studying, 27 were unpaid carers, and 10 were long-term sick or disabled. Additionally, nearly all eligible adults were volunteering, either within or outwith the refugee community, and attending a job club.
A range of support structures have been put in place through both the Council and the wider
community, including language classes, support workers, drop-in advice sessions, welcome packs, etc, but while participants have appreciated these, they are often regarded as inadequate to meet all needs. In a consultation event with 122 participants discussing refugee integration (6 September 2017), employability was a key issue, with language as a top barrier to employment. Other examples that came up frequently included better access to work/training, more volunteering opportunities (including opportunities to use existing skills), and support for self-employment. Participants expressed frustration with a sense of dependency, and a desire to work as a way of gaining independence, using their skills, integrating in the local area and contributing to their communities.
These kinds of frustrations will be familiar to anyone with experience of unemployment, and many of the solutions suggested in the consultation would be beneficial to a range of different groups (for example, access to childcare, local support in rural areas, web-based resources, peer learning, better transport links, better training for JobCentre staff, etc).
Data Source: 2021, Syrian New Scots Partnership.
Category: Qualitative Data
Topics: Aberdeenshire Employment New Scots