Professional bodies and supporting highly-skilled refugees into employment

A group of refugees meeting having a conversation in an informal setting


Refugees may be highly qualified and experienced professionals, yet many remain unemployed or under employed, in a lower-grade occupation than their skills merit. This has consequences for these individuals, but also the UK economy where there are many areas of skills shortage. Mainstream employment and refugee support organisations lack the specialised knowledge to help these individuals, knowledge which is the basis of professional bodies and their members.

This project sought to produce a research-informed review of the policies and activities of professional bodies to support refugees into employment in their disciplines, to understand current issues, barriers, and provision, and to provide recommendations to assist professional bodies in developing their practice. Three approaches were taken:

  • A scoping review of global literature on highly skilled migrants and professional bodies
  • A review of websites and relevant activities of a sample of professional bodies in the UK to evaluate some of the support currently available
  • Interviews and discussions with key informants, including professional body representatives and related organisations, refugee and employment support organisations, and refugees with a professional background themselves
Dr John Willott 
Leeds Beckett University 

December 2022 

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