Refugees Face Challenges When Looking for Work

Buffalo is a city full of thousands of refugees—many of whom arrived over a relatively short period of time. The city sets an example for other countries about the acceptance of others.

From 2007 to 2014, the city welcomed more than 9,000 migrants from all over the world. The refugees are accepted, framed and inserted very easily at the social level. However, there is an element of important size that we do not often talk about: professional integration. And at this level, there are many challenges. According to studies conducted in 2015, the unemployment rate in Buffalo is 6.9 percent, ahead of Niagara Falls (7.8 percent) but behind Syracuse (6.4 percent). And these figures include refugees. Refugees face several obstacles starting with the language barrier

Few migrants understand English when they arrive; the majority have no knowledge of it. It is therefore difficult to be able to express themselves. Interviews are conducted in English for jobs. As a result, most of them end up in handcrafts jobs, in factories or hotels (housekeepers, dishwashers etc.). Many talented people do not have the opportunity to highlight their talents, at least in the beginning. They perform jobs where speaking is a limited requirement. Mrs Dovi, African Immigrant and owner of Dovi and Girls Store told me: “The biggest obstacle for me was the language”. According to her, it’s like being paralyzed. The fact of not being able to express your feelings is a terrible situation that she would not even wish for her worst enemy. And that is just an euphemism.

Another problem facing immigrants seeking employment is the lack of recognition of foreign diplomas. This is a recurring problem here in the United States. Many foreign diplomas are questioned for the simple reason that the education systems are very different. University courses are by no means the same. Therefore, teachers in their country of origin are simply drivers, cooks, etc here because the diplomas have lost their value.

And finally there is the category of refugees who are talented, but neglect their gifts in order to practice in better structured jobs. It’s the case of many African hairdressers who consider that establishing a business is a “mind-puzzle”. It’s better for them to have employers than to be holder of a business.

We conclude, as a result of our analysis, that being refugee and finding work is not a difficult at all. It is a challenging task when it comes to finding a profession corresponding to diplomas and talents. Buffalo is not as big as New York City, so there are fewer opportunities to work. The least that can be said is that Buffalo is a very welcoming city and a second home for those refugees who have lived through harsh moments and are learning to live again. And as the Proverb goes: “the most beautiful woman offers only what she has,” Buffalo makes available to the refugees what it possesses. It’s therefore necessary for refugees to turn to the appropriate structures in order to find the job that suits them the best.

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