The World Economic Forum’s Refugee Employment Alliance, co-chaired by the UNHCR and the Ingka Group, accelerates multistakeholder support for the economic integration of refugees globally.
The Alliance has three objectives:
By April 2023, the war in Ukraine had forced over 8 million people to flee their homes and cross borders in search of safety.
The war is widely recognised as the worst conflict in Europe since the Second World War and adds to the estimated 32 million people worldwide who have been displaced across borders because of persecution, conflict, violence, and human rights violations. The war contributes to a decade-long upward trend in global conflicts and reinforces the need to find durable solutions in countries of origin while enabling economic opportunity for those displaced in host countries.
In May 2022, the World Economic Forum launched the Refugee Employment Alliance, harnessing the opportunity to learn from the rapid response to the war in Ukraine to motivate progressive and equitable solutions for the economic integration of forcibly displaced populations globally.
In January 2023, the Alliance published “Enabling the Economic Integration of Refugees: Lessons learned on refugee employment and employability from the rapid response to Ukraine.” The lessons learned point to scalable strategies for refugee employment and inform the Alliance’s areas of action for 2023:
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“The biggest challenge that many refugees face is access to the formal labour market. Language barriers, lack of recognition of their qualifications, and discrimination all limit job opportunities. Education and work are interrupted when one is forced to flee as well as the absence of social and professional networks, making it difficult to compete successfully in the job market. As a result, refugees face high levels of unemployment and economic insecurity, which inhibits their ability to support themselves and contribute to their new communities. This alliance is an important and much-needed initiative that opens up job opportunities that would lead to independence, dignity and income for refugees seeking decent work and add economic vibrancy to their host communities.”
— Kelly T. Clements, Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR
“After several years of experience working with refugees, we know that supporting refugee employment and employability is good for both business and society. Refugees bring diversity, which sparks innovation within our company; for example, when it comes to our recruitment practices. From our internal co-worker surveys, we know that refugees increase co-workers’ pride and a sense of belonging to the company. Finally, refugees are experts at resilience and adaptability and tend to stay with the same employer longer, which is a true win-win.”
— Tolga Öncu, Chief Operations Officer, Ingka Group
The Refugee Employment Alliance is a coalition of business, civil society, and government leaders who coordinate and scale action on refugee employment. The Alliance runs to January 2024 and is open to Chief Human Resources Officer, Ministers, and Civil Society Executives, all of whom can appoint a delegate to support the Alliance’s activities.