The majority of young Syrian refugees in the UK are either in work or studying, new research shows, quashing any claims that many are reluctant to work, and take advantage of social welfare benefits.
A study carried out among the 7,300 Syrian refugees who have resettled in the UK since 2015 reveals that around two-thirds of those aged 18 to 32 are either in employment or engaged in study at university or college.
The research, conducted by academics from the University of Glasgow, shows that more than one in four (27 per cent) had jobs and over a third (36 per cent) were students.
One in five (19 per cent) meanwhile said they were unemployed and searching for a job, with 55 per cent saying that their main barrier to labour-market access was language.
Dr Dimitris Skleparis, one of the researchers who carried out the study, said: “Our research debunks the myth that many Syrians are reluctant to participate in the labour market and are taking advantage of social welfare provisions. In fact, despite the language barrier, an often interrupted education and experiences of trauma, less than one in five is unemployed and looking for work, while most of the rest are either students, in work or looking after children. Young Syrian refugees in the UK are highly educated and skilled, with high aspirations, who want to settle in the UK and are very grateful for the support and welcome they have received.”
Jeremy Bernhaut, specialist resettlement manager at Refugee Action, told The Independent refugees were determined to start contributing to their new communities through work, volunteering and socialising with their neighbours.
“Their skills and experiences have enormous potential to enrich our culture and boost our economy, so it is wonderful to see so many people arriving through the Syrian resettlement programme already in work or continuing their studies,” he said. “But as this study suggests, not being able to speak English is a huge barrier to integration. Our research shows refugees can wait up to three years to start learning English due to long waiting lists and a lack of local provision. This has to change. We’re calling on the government to invest in English so that all refugees in Britain can share our language and achieve their aspirations.”