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Employment, networking and meaningful connections for refugees — in one event.

Why Give a Job?

Give a job started out of the need to contribute to the sustainable inclusion of refugees and asylum seekers in Norway. Handing out warm clothing and food was helpful, but not a long term solution to a growing challenge. As such, Aiman Shaqura (owner and initiator of Give a Job) together with three acquaintances decided to create a meeting place for refugees and businesses in society. A place where people can meet at the same level, find common ground, and develop long lasting and substantial connections which could lead the way into working life. It would be based on the principle that by bringing people together, boundaries, stereotypes and labels could be broken and meaningful connections could be enabled.

This ‘place’ actualised in the form of unique events in which public and private sector institutions, social enterprises and voluntary organisations would be encouraged to hire refugees, thereby promoting diversity and the inclusion of society’s new citizens in the workplace.

Creating special experiences

Give a Job creates special experiences for both both refugees seeking employment and the employers in attendance. The goal is to emphasize the great value that diversity can bring to companies, and encourage organizations to find potential candidates among the attendees. Events are held in well known locations, with great food and entertainment and hosted by celebrities. These factors also remove communication barriers and make it easier for participants to pitch themselves to potential employers.

The first event was hosted in Trondheim in December 2015. Many factors were uncertain, but the passion and drive was there. Nordic Choice Hotels partnered with Give a Job and together with other enthusiastic volunteers a successful event was pulled off. Over 300 people attended, and 15 people got actual employment offers.

The second event took place in Stavanger in September 2016. Despite warnings about the economic climate (Stavanger had the highest unemployment rate in Norway), Give a Job applied their learnings from previous events, partnered with Hero (an organisation that assists with the reception and integration of asylum seekers) and succeeded again. More than 10 participants got called in for interviews and 8 were eventually employed.

The third event in Kristiansand, October 2016 was another success. Once again learnings from the previous two events were applied and great results were achieved.

Give a Job in Oslo

On the 23rd of January 2017, Give a job will host their fourth event in Oslo. However, this event will be different from the others. With aim of developing future financial sustainability, a fee for participants is included. This is one way to test the commitment and interest between both businesses and participants. This will also show what companies are willing to invest in the project and whether they are willing to become partners in other cities across the country. Attendants and participants will be treated to dinner, entertainment and networking with high profile business executives and politicians. A panel of refugees will share their experiences in the Norwegian workplace and will act as motivating force for the other job seekers. Attending refugees will also have access to a bigger network of mentors.

Give a Job has also partnered with other social entrepreneurs that are engaged in integration projects targeting refugees and asylum seekers. Therefore, the Oslo event hopes to build meaningful connections for all participants even for those who are not offered employment. More importantly, leaders in society are afforded the opportunity to learn more about these individuals, their stories, strengths, capabilities and how they can positively impact Norwegian society.

You can learn more about the event here.

The Future of Give a Job

Apart from events, Give a Job is also working on a digital platform that will collect and provide information to newly arrived arrived immigrants about important services and relevant events and courses to ease the integration process. In addition to finding jobs that suit their skills and qualifications, they will better navigate through a digital place where they can access the information, networks and connections needed to efficiently integrate in a new society.

Give a Job is a young and ambitious social enterprise but to offer sustainable solutions, the organisation itself needs to become sustainable. At the moment they rely on funding and donations but are evaluating business models that can become relevant. The introduction of the small fee at the next event is essentially a pilot to test whether this is a service that people will be willing to pay for. It is also hoped that the digital platform can provide a vital solution to the growing challenge of lacking diversity and inclusion of refugees in the Norwegian society. A solution that both private and public sector organisations can potentially be willing to fund and maintain.

This article was first published on SoCentral and can be found here.