From sheep-shearing to animation—the obvious job choices for an asylum seeker?! - Refugee Council
August 4, 2010

From sheep-shearing to animation—the obvious job choices for an asylum seeker?!

By Marilyn, Campaigns team

Last week the Supreme Court ruled that asylum seekers who have submitted new evidence about their asylum claim and who have waited for more than one year for a decision are entitled to apply for permission to work.

The Home Office immediately responded by saying that asylum seekers will be allowed to apply for jobs in shortage occupations only. As the Guardian reported, “Asylum seekers would have to be qualified maths teachers, chemical engineers, high-integrity pipe welders or even experienced orchestral musicians or ballet dancers to have any hope of being allowed to work“.

My favourite is “skilled sheep shearer with a British Wool Marketing Board bronze medal (or equivalent) or above”. I fancy that one myself. Perhaps I’ll give up the campaigning life and retrain.

I’m hoping there are asylum seekers out there who fit the bill for some of the jobs. Lots of refugees were teachers in their home countries. Yesterday I was reading about a man who was a physiotherapist in Iran before he was forced to leave in fear of his life—maybe he’s in with a chance? I see we’re looking for animators; the artist from Eritrea (featured in our Chance or Choice report) who came here after he managed to escape from prison where he’d been held for producing cartoons critical of the regime, would be ideal.

Everyone else will just have to sit it out, waiting for a decision on their claim before they can get on with their lives. Many have already waited years, surviving on sub-poverty levels of benefits or ending up destitute.

The simple solution to this would be to let asylum seekers work. We’re calling for everyone who’s waited longer than six months for a decision on their claim to be allowed to work, and be able to apply for any job they are qualified for. Other countries do it, why can’t we? It would save money and let people to use their skills to support themselves and their families.

Take action today and tell your MP to sign the declaration in support of our campaign. The more support we have in parliament, the more likely it is that the government will change the policy.

Right, that’s today’s campaigning out of the way. Now, where did I put the application form for that sheep shearing training course?