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Red Cross launches employment service for former refugees

Red Cross launches employment service for former refugees

New Zealand Red Cross is encouraging employers to give refugees a fresh startwith the launch of Pathways to Employment, a nationwide work assistance service.

Naing Naing Tun who fled Myanmarsix years ago, says getting a jobwas key to starting his life in New Zealand, but it was difficult to do on his own.

“I didn’t like sitting around. I like to work and didn’t want to receive the benefit. I also wanted a job so I could support my fiancée tocome to NewZealand. I had experience cooking,soI did a culinary course, but then it was hard getting a job, I had no community, contacts or references.”

New Zealand Red Cross arranged a trial forNaingNaing at Monsoon Poon, a Wellington restaurant.

Today, a year later,Naing Naing is happily married and expecting hisfirst child with his wife.

“I am excited to be starting a family here because I miss my family in Myanmar, it will be good to now have family here,”Mr Tun says.

Tony Paine, Secretary General of New Zealand Red Cross,says the Pathways to Employment service is not just of benefit to former refugees, but to employers and the wider community.

“Employers get the opportunity to work with highly motivated and committed people who bring valuable skills and have an incredible strength and resilience.

“Employment is empowering. It givesthese newNew Zealanders an opportunity to contribute to the community that they now call home.”

Starting on the path to employment is a crucial part of resettling in New Zealand for people from refugee backgrounds. Employment not only improves economic independence -it is also important for social wellbeing and creating a connection to New Zealand society.

But many former refugees face barriers to entering the workforce due to learning a newculture and language and often their skills and qualifications are notrecognised or transferable in New Zealand.

“Formerrefugees are ordinary people who have faced extraordinary conditions. Unfortunately in New Zealand many find themselvesstruggling to get that crucial first job, or they find themselves stuck in casual jobswhich don’t allow them to support their family. This service isn’t just about getting themany work, it is about helping them to find sustainable employment that uses their skills and
abilities,”Mr Paine says.

The new service supports former refugees on the ‘pathway’ they take in finding employment, which can include training, volunteering, work experience and part-time work.

In addition to providing one-on-one client support, the service works closely with employers and training providers to help them workwith former refugees.

Pathways to Employment has been piloted successfully inWellington and Hamilton, which saw 49 people come off unemployment benefits. UsingGovernment calculations this has saved Work and IncomeNewZealand $6 million. *

Pathways to Employment isfunded by Work and Income NewZealand andwill allow New Zealand Red Cross to work with 450 people per year in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, greater Wellington and Nelson.


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