Recognizing Talent: Stories from refugees and their employers

Recognizing Talent: Stories from refugees and their employers


This is Ali. He really enjoys his job
as a programmer, right? I love it, yeah.
-But this wasn’t the job he always had. I worked in advertising before,
I did art direction but who could guess anyway
that a war is going to break out and things are going to change. Ali fled from Syria. Three years ago, he came
as an asylum seeker to the Netherlands but finding a job in the Netherlands
as an advertiser was difficult for Ali, so he followed a three month course
in computer programming and shifted his career focus. This is Niels, the founder
of the company Fonk where Ali works. He is really happy
that he hired Ali because: Finding good people
is difficult in this world especially good people
that fit in your DNA. Ali started out at Fonk as a volunteer.
That sounds like a no risk method to find new talent for you, Niels.
-No, that’s not true. Even a volunteer requires
our people to make an effort to train him. No, it’s always a risk. You invest hours
that you could also invest in other stuff. And it’s not a risk, it’s all about
an investment and about learning. So even if it didn’t work, it was a learning
process and you get something out of it. And that investment into Ali
worked out positively. But didn’t it matter
that Ali’s only relevant training was a three month course
in computer programming? In this world, it’s all about learning skills
and not about the skills you possess. I’d rather have people
who learn fast and are open to that than people who are stuck. Like Ali, there are many motivated
and skilled refugees in Europe who are enthusiastic towards working
and building their careers. And there are many companies
that are looking for skilled staff. Say hi to Ilnaz.
She starts each day: totally happy. I enjoy going to my job. I’m glad to be part of a great team. Ilnaz came as a teenager
to the Netherlands. Together with her mother and sisters
she fled from Iran. After finishing high school,
she studied to become a lawyer but finding a job turned out to be difficult. I wrote hundreds of application letters. At a certain point I stopped
writing letters and started networking. I didn’t know many people
in the business industry or people who are employed. The result of all this networking
was pretty rewarding. I spoke to at least 20 people who were
open to having a conversation with me. Three years later,
I received a text message: Ilnaz,
I think I have a job opening that you will like. And here is the man
who sent that message. Tell us, Robert, what are you looking for
when you recruit a new employee? Are you enthusiastic? What is your
background? What have you witnessed? In Ilnaz’ case,
I was very impressed by her adaptability and tenacity
to be successful in the Netherlands. She learned Dutch in no time, she is educated
and she was desperate for a job. But not as a lawyer. Ilnaz works
as a representative for a company that provides interpreting
and translation services. I learnt to fulfil my role on the job. By accompanying colleagues to meetings. By trial and error, by making mistakes
and having that opportunity. Robert saw the potential in Ilnaz. But did you ever have doubts
because of cultural differences? Of course there are differences
with people from the Netherlands. But if you, as a superior, manage
to bridge that gap for yourself you’ll have a very loyal and good employee. I wake up in the morning at six
and feel like: Yes, I’m going to work. Because I am enjoying what I am doing. Meet Alisat. She fled
from Uganda a couple of years ago. There she had many jobs.
Her last one as a hairdresser. But without official diplomas Alisat struggled to launch
her career in the Netherlands. Before I had no job. It’s like I am sad,
I don’t want to see anybody. It’s like: I don’t want to talk to anybody,
but when you move to an area like this people are happy with you,
people are smiling, you smile too. You forget everything from your past. Alisat’s job placement at Manpower Group
is part of a project that the company does in cooperation
with the city of Amsterdam. Dirco,
can you tell us more about this project? We have 90 asylum seekers who we are
coaching to work and / or education. The coaching lasts for six months and in those six months, we focus
on the talents of the candidate. We see their level of Dutch
knowledge, but also their level of English. We see their level of education and we see how to fill the gap to the job
that they would like to have later on. It’s a really interesting job. And it’s like a school;
I am learning how to cook I am learning how to do new things
and it helps me to improve my language because every day I learn new words. Dany arrived in the Netherlands ten years ago Back in Iraq,
he studied to become a doctor. But here in the Netherlands he followed a new education path
to become a physical therapist. And he successfully received
his qualification. I don’t think it’s really Dutch At first, I wasn’t confident
about my language. But, you seem to have mastered
the Dutch language very quickly. At the end of my very first day I thought:
I have fears, but they are not realistic. So now
you are a qualified physical therapist. What steps did you take to get here? I ended up here in the Netherlands,
but I didn’t have any qualifications I wanted to study,
but that wasn’t possible just like that. You can’t just start a university
or higher education course. This is why he decided
to follow a one-year program to compensate for the final
two years of Dutch high school. Once I had my high school diploma
in the Netherlands I was immediately allowed to take part
in the draw for a physical therapy course and fortunately I was accepted. After graduating,
Dany found an employment agency which specializes
in the physical therapy sector. And here’s the man who hired Dany. Dmitri, were you motivated to recruit Dany because he was a refugee
or were there other reasons? It didn’t matter to us
whether he was or wasn’t a refugee. It’s not a criteria
when we’re selecting someone whether they’d be a good employee. The main thing is
how they treat patients. That comes first. Treating patients politely
and being able to verbalize everything. He speaks the Dutch language very well. In general it’s difficult to say what we
can tell the employers about ‘the refugee’. ‘The refugee’ does not exist,
everybody is different. What we say is focus on talent. Look at what is this person,
what is his qualification? What are his skills?
What can he contribute to your company? We don’t judge people on how they look
or where they come from. It’s about how you interact with the group,
how you communicate. It’s really interesting to have
a diverse group of people in the house. We have a really diverse team and what
you get, is a lot of empathy for people. They talk to each other,
and try to understand each other so it broadens our people’s mindsets which makes us more humble people
and better designers.

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