NICEM highlights employment barriers through INTEGRO project

Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Maire Hendron will open a family-friendly roadshow event at the Indian Community Centre in Belfast on Saturday 7th March.

The event will provide an opportunity for families from migrant community backgrounds living in Belfast to share their experiences of searching for employment in Northern Ireland and to suggest solutions they would like to see explored by policy makers.

The event is part of INTEGRO – Integration on the Ground – a major European project coordinated by NICEM, examining the employment barriers to integration in Northern Ireland and builds on two ‘Voices for Change’ reports on integration commissioned by NICEM that provided evidence of the extent of the employment barriers in Northern Ireland.

Belfast’s Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Maire Hendron, paid tribute to the roadshows and congratulated NICEM for their role as organisers,

“If the experience in the workplace is one of unequal treatment, or of difficulty in accessing employment, there is no doubt that this will colour their view of wider society and make the integration process more difficult. These roadshows provide an important opportunity to bring people together and help explore practical solutions to encourage integration of our new communities”

Mark Caffrey, INTEGRO Project Officer for Northern Ireland with NICEM, stated,

“The INTEGRO project has been able to evidence these barriers to full participation, but also to draw attention to the positive effect of the migrant workforce on the Northern Ireland economy. People from black and minority ethnic community backgrounds living in Northern Ireland can still experience barriers that prevent them using their skills and expertise in their workplace. The potential of this workforce is lost when people are forced to accept jobs that under-utilise their skills.’

Nathalie Donnelly of UNISON Black and Migrant Workers group stressed that many of the migrant worker members are working well below their level of qualifications:

“We have all come across Filipino and Indian nurses working as Care Assistants, or Polish teachers working as cleaners in the local school. In 2011, the UNISON Black and Migrant Workers group carried out a survey and found that less than 40% of respondents said they were working at a level of qualification that matched the work they were currently doing. Unfortunately, these figures are still relevant.”

NICEM’s reports were commissioned in the context of the INTEGRO project as a response to the lack of existing community-led action research and the recent consultation on a revised Racial Equality Strategy in the wake of the mass demonstration ‘March Against Racism’ in Summer 2014 that attracted almost 8,000 supporters.

The event will take place on Saturday 7th February from 11am-1pm followed by a hot lunch for registered participants. The event is free and children’s activities will take place from 10am. Please register with kevin@nicem.org.uk or call 028 9023 8645

The Indian Community Centre is located at 86 Clifton Street, Belfast, BT13 1AB.

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