By Rochelle Stewart-Allen, HOST Senior Manager New Zealand

In New Zealand, there is a global talent pool that has entrepreneurial skills, is multilingual, and offers diverse thinking at a time when New Zealand is consistently praising the benefits of bringing new voices into our organisations. This group of people is already living in our communities, actively looking for work, and open to new opportunities. Who are they?

They are New Zealand’s resettled communities.

They arrived in New Zealand as refugees – maybe six months, two, five or 10 years ago or more – after being forcibly displaced from their homes and being unable to return.

On arrival in New Zealand, their refugee journey was complete and the label no longer applied. Instead they are now recognised as former refugees, or from a refugee background, or resettled community members. They are Permanent Residents with Kiwi passports and full work rights.

What we hear very little about in media is what happens when the refugee journey ends and someone settles into their new life in their new country.

There is a great need for more visibility and debate around how best to help people resettle and local communities adapt and adjust.

Former refugees are focussed on settling in and rebuilding their lives for themselves and their families. Most of all, they want to work and be self-sufficient.

With 30% of former refugees arriving in New Zealand with professional qualifications and experience, that’s an untapped talent pool that could be contributing their international expertise to our businesses and filling some of our skill shortages.

A number of former refugees have also gone on to gain New Zealand qualifications, either complementing their original qualifications or giving them new skills and expertise to bring into the workforce.

When acclaimed international thinker and writer Philippe Legrain visited New Zealand in August 2018, he reiterated that former refugees have a lot to contribute to New Zealand society and the organisations that employ them.

Philippe’s visit was hosted by New Zealand non-profit organisation HOST International, which is focussed on new and innovative solutions that improve the speed and effectiveness that former refugees settle and start rebuilding their lives.

“If you’re a small business, you might look at hiring a refugee as somehow a risk, but I think with suitable help and support its a risk worth taking as you’ll be richly rewarded with a hardworking, local, motivated employee,” Philippe Legrain says

The decision of a Kiwi employer can transform a former refugee’s life and Philippe Legrain argues that an employee who has a refugee background can transform an organisation and indeed improve society as a whole.

Tent Foundation’s recent research demonstrates that former refugees are motivated, loyal and hard-working. They bring a diverse global perspective and new ways of working. They bring their professional knowledge and expertise. They also usually speak two or more languages.

Think about what work means to you. It provides a way to feel valued, a sense of personal purpose and accomplishment. It makes you feel you are actively contributing to society.

Its time for New Zealand businesses to recognise that diverse thinkers will benefit their organisations financially and culturally. So why not consider a qualified professional from a refugee background as a potential employee to fill your skill shortage.

Keen to learn more?

You can read more about what Philippe had to say to business about the benefits of employing former refugees in his National Business Review article, republished by NZ Initiative.

HOST International runs the Refugee Talent online job platform in New Zealand. You can advertise your vacant roles there and we’ll utilise our networks to identify suitable candidates.