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REST certificate: Success stories of refugees and their labour market integration

In this edition of “A home far from home” we presentthe REST certificate (Refugee Employment Support and Training), awarded to companies developing their potential of working with refugees.

Certificates of honour were awarded, at an official ceremony in Sofia, to employers who have been able to discover the “rough diamond” at the heart of the people seeking protection in this country, wrote CATRO on their Facebook page.

The first good example is the Sofia-based company Petrov Technology. The company’s manager Boyko Vatov expressed his gratitude for the acknowledgement, and added that in the person of his refugee worker he had found someone of value, a prized specialist.

The other example of refugee workers is at the Bulgarian company Prolet EOOD, Dimitrovgrad. Slavi Slavov, HR expert at the company commented that there was nothing grand in what they had done, that it was something quite ordinary as they had needed workers. Slavov said that the three Afghan refugees working at the leather handbag workshop were unique people, and that when one enters the department where they work it is like seeing three suns shining.

CATRO, the leading Austrian consultancy group in human resources management and development, has been working with a team of like-minded associates for two years to throw a REST bridge between refugees and employers. But the first step, before any commendations to companies can take place, was to help them see refugees as part of the labour market, says Anelia Dimitrova, manager of an HR consultancy company. To be able to persuade 50 companies to discover the potential refugees have, one has to start by changing attitudes. Information campaigns, training sessions and career forums were organized before the employer-refugee face to face.

One of CATRO’s key partners in their search for the right refugee labour integration solutions is the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), an organization which traditionally works with governments and with the NGO sector, yet in its work with employers seems to be have been making less progress. With regard to the integration of refugees, which is most successful at the work place, the organization has also been focusing on forming partnerships in the private sector with the aim of promoting social responsibility, saysEmilia Bratovanova van Harten from the UNHCR. She adds that the companies awarded have created an environment of acceptance, and the REST certificate is a way to acknowledge this work and this enthusiasm, as well as a message sent out to all companies that anyone has the capability to develop their potential.

Translated from the Bulgarian by Milena Daynova

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