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Bakir Lashkari, Vluchteling & Carrière:

"NL: "You just have to start at the bottom"

A refugee isn't pathetic. If you can run, you can take care of yourself. Status holders that can work, just need a bit of a helping hand. This is the opinion of Bakir Lashkari of Vluchteling & Carrière (Refugee & Professional). In March he started a pilot enterprise to place status holders with agri and horticultural companies in Westland through learn and work courses.

In collaboration with the municipality of Westland, Vluchteling & Carrière offers fifteen refugees a course which combines integration, education and work. Speaking of the success of the pilot, which is still ongoing, he says as a matter of fact: "It's going well, but it's tough." 

Bakir talking to a Syrian man

“Well", in this case, it means that 10 status holders have been able to get a contract with the Westland companies. But the course has been difficult. Participants sometimes seem to be stuck between the clashing interests of employers, education and the municipality. The employers state the language barrier is the main problem. Lashkari: "When the employer tells someone to put six cucumbers in a box, they only put three or four in." And according to Lashkari, the municipality is impatient: "They want people to get a contract as soon as possible and stop learning. But it is extremely important that people are actively coached."

Affairs not in order
Lashkari also says he runs into the meagre willingness of municipalities to more actively and quickly select status holders for this type of learning and working course. His experience is that municipalities don't yet have their affairs in order concerning labour guidance. "Just a few days ago I asked a municipality whether they have fifteen status holders who would be suitable for a certain employer. "If you can supply a list with names, dates of birth and competencies, I can offer them to the employer and they will have an interview soon," I said. But their employee indicated that they hadn't mapped this out yet. So what are they doing?"

Start at the bottom
Vluchteling & Carrière's approach is the same as how Lashkari talks: positive but direct. "You just have to start at the bottom. That's what I say to every status holder we speak to. If you were a lawyer in your country of origin, it doesn't mean you can be a lawyer here. First of all, they usually don't speak enough Dutch. And for many the culture here is totally different. They don't understand the working culture and how to communicate on the work floor. The focus on social skills is therefore very important."

CVs are also examined at Vluchteling & Carrière. "We often see that CVs have been inflated because an intern at some social work organisation or other has made it." Does he have an example? Lashkari: "For instance, it will say that someone is a doctor. When asked, it turns out that they studied medicine for a few years."

Own experience as a refugee
Lashkari believes everyone has a talent. "But scouting those talents has to be done by people talented at scouting talents. You don't put recruiters or interns on the job." He is working from his own experience: 43 years ago he came to the Netherlands as a refugee. "I was a Kurd from Northern Iraq, from Kurdistan." After he was awarded refugee status, he learnt the language at school and in practice. "I lived in different student houses. A good place for integration. I also met my current wife during this period." Due to his background he is able to sketch a realistic image, he says. "Refugees often ask me: how long did it take you? Well, it was about ten to fifteen years before I thought: I now have the job that I want."

Some people don't like his vocal opinion, he admits. "But I can support it with my own experiences and what I see in the real world. I want to talk to people about their own responsibilities. I always say: those that can't work, need help. Those that can work, just need a little support."

Source: Kennis Integratie & Samenleving
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