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Remote Jobs for Refugees: How To Improve Lives With Livelihoods

Remote Work

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Updated on:
April 5, 2024
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Updated on :

April 5, 2024
Remote Jobs for Refugees: How To Improve Lives With Livelihoods


According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), about 89.3 million people were forcibly displaced worldwide by the end of 2021. 27.1 million were refugees, while 53.2 million were internally displaced persons. In 2022, the number of displaced has reached a record high due to the Russia-Ukraine war and other global conflicts.

When people are displaced, they lose their livelihood and may become an economic burden to their host countries. Various legal and structural hurdles also exist that prevent many of them from getting the same employment opportunities as the natives of their host countries.

Thankfully, there is a new solution to the unemployment issue among refugees. That solution is remote jobs for refugees. One of the recent reports by the International Labor Organization (ILO) confirms that remote work can provide a promising path toward stable, fulfilling employment.

Hiring Refugees Can Solve the Need for Digital Talent

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation initiatives across different sectors. Many companies have transitioned to hybrid or remote working, creating a high demand for digital talent.

One challenge that most employers face due to the increased digitalization is the need for job-ready digital talent. According to a Udacity report in partnership with IPSOS, 46% of enterprises have experienced project delays because of a lack of job-ready talent. In comparison, 54% of employers need help getting employees the right technical skills.

While the rising digital skills gap is an issue that cuts across almost all sectors, the most affected sectors are technology, financial services, information technology, and telecommunications, as these primarily revolve around digital skills.

The digital talent gaps could have severe and far-reaching implications on a company or industry if not addressed. Your employees waste valuable time searching for information to try and fill their digital skills gaps, leading to a drop in productivity. Your business may save money for various reasons, such as failing to deploy software, investing in the wrong software tools, or having unused applications.

The digital talent gaps provide opportunities for refugees with the necessary skills and experience. By demonstrating their skills, companies across the world can hire refugees to occupy various roles. Most digital roles today can be performed remotely, allowing the refugees to work from wherever they are.

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Hiring Refugees Is Not Just Humanitarian; It's Profitable

There are multiple benefits of hiring refugees. For starters, it enhances diversity in your workforce as the refugees come from different backgrounds and cultures. Research shows that a diverse workforce can enhance creativity, diligence, and innovation, which are critical for business growth.

Moreover, refugees are often more loyal to their jobs than regular employees. Having lost their homes and personal property in their countries of origin, most refugees see their new jobs as a chance to start their lives over. As a result, they are willing to work hard and stick with your company for a long time.

Finally, by working with refugees, your employees develop new ideas and skills and drop any unconscious biases they might have had.

Opportunities Presented by Remote Work for Refugees

With more people growing conscious about the need for an excellent work-life balance, many companies are offering a work-from-home option to attract and retain top talent. As of 2022, 16% of companies globally exclusively hire remote workers, while it's estimated that 73% of all departments will include remote workers by 2028.

As remote work becomes mainstream, the opportunities for employment among refugees continue to increase. The geographical limitations that would have prevented them from getting jobs no longer exist, and they can work for some of the top global companies no matter where they are.

Building Digital Skills for Refugees

In recent years, multiple programs have been established to enhance the digital skills of refugees. For example, most refugee-supporting organizations have online education and training programs where refugees can learn vital skills in the digital era, such as programming, web and app development, data visualization, digital marketing, and digital product management.

Through these digital training initiatives, the refugees acquire some of the skills in top demand worldwide. As a result, they are ready and equipped to embrace the opportunities for remote digital jobs that may come their way.

The Right to Remote Work for Refugees

Various legal restrictions still exist despite the many benefits of hiring remote refugee workers. In many countries, the application of social security and labor laws for remote workers remains to be seen, especially when a person is working for a company in one country and residing in another. For example, in the Czech Republic, remote workers do not have any legal status, so many companies avoid hiring them, given the legal uncertainty.

The situation is even more complicated for refugees as many do not have the right to work in their host countries. As a result, they end up working illegally in the informal sector.

Overall, remote working for refugees is still a new concept, and countries are still trying to develop legal frameworks to guide it. In the future, expect more countries to formalize refugee jobs and guarantee adequate labor protection for this group.

How Can Refugees Be Hired Legally in a Fully Remote Environment?

There are two primary options you can use to hire refugees legally on a fully remote basis:

  • Hire Refugees as Independent Contractors. You are not legally responsible for filing their tax returns when you hire independent contractors. They are nonemployees and hence accountable for their tax.
  • The easiest option for hiring refugees is to work with an Employer of Record (EOR) platform like Skuad. The EOR will be in charge of every aspect, from hiring the workers to managing payroll and ensuring tax compliance.

The Immense Opportunity for Global Remote Employers

Understanding refugees' obstacles when looking for employment is critical, especially for global employers. Through this understanding, organizations can establish better strategies and initiatives to enable refugees to get remote jobs without much hassle.

In most countries where barriers to remote work for refugees exist, there needs to be more understanding of digital remote work. Such countries also need proper legal frameworks to support remote work.

Overall, delving into the topic of remote work jobs for refugees and how to improve refugee livelihoods offers an immense opportunity to understand and remove the structural and social barriers that have for a long time prevented refugees from getting employment opportunities and leading decent lives.

Practical Steps To Match Refugees With Remote Jobs

Because getting in-person jobs is still a challenge for refugees in many countries, their best pathway to getting steady, dignified jobs is through remote work. Fortunately, matching refugees with the right remote jobs is easier because there are plenty of opportunities in the market.

Below are some practical steps that can expedite the process of refugees getting remote jobs:

  • Lobbying refugee-hosting countries to establish the right legal frameworks for remote work
  • Encouraging employers, both in the public and private sector, to hire workers, and especially refugees, remotely
  • Providing training opportunities to refugees, so their skills can match the demands of the labor market
  • Reducing costs and time taken by refugees to acquire training and certifications
  • Facilitating increased access to decent employment opportunities for refugees, for example, by fostering easier transitions from the informal sector to the formal economy

By implementing these and other measures, remote work has the potential to change the lives of many refugees and positively impact the economies of the countries hosting them.

Helpful Resources for Employers and Refugees

Various organizations are committed to providing helpful resources to refugees and other underrepresented populations, including training and job placement. These organizations include:

MIT ReACT provides learning opportunities for displaced populations through entrepreneurship training and computer and data science certification.

Na’ amal helps refugees access dignified jobs, particularly remote work, by providing training and mentorship in soft skills and job links to the private sector.

ReBootKAMP provides specialized training in coding, helping refugees and other vulnerable populations in the Middle East to acquire market-ready technical skills.

Roia provides training in basic literacy and specific software applications to displaced persons in the Middle East.

Other organizations connect refugees with jobs and employers with refugee talent. These include:

Tent is a non-profit organization comprising a network of over 250 companies. Its main goal is to mobilize the business community to integrate refugees into their host communities.

Jobs for Refugees strive for a fairer future by connecting historically underrepresented talent to employers across the globe.

Talent Beyond Boundaries supports refugees by connecting them with employers and creating talent mobility pathways so they can achieve self-sufficiency and security.

Build and Manage Global Refugee Talent With Skuad

Working with refugees is one of the smartest decisions your company can make. Adding refugee talent to your team can create a more diverse and engaged workforce.

If you want to hire remote refugee talent smoothly and legally, working with Skuad is your best option. We will take care of all hiring and managing great talent while you handle the growth of your business. Schedule a free demo today to get started.

About the author

Kate Jonson is a Software Engineer and Tech Writer. During the day, she writes codes and develops tech products. At night, she moonlights as a tech writer sharing her thoughts on work productivity and efficient HR management practices. 

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