Exploring highly educated refugees’ potential as knowledge workers in contemporary Britain

Psoinos, Maria (2007) Exploring highly educated refugees’ potential as knowledge workers in contemporary Britain. Equal Opportunities International, 26(8), pp. 834-852. ISSN (print) 0261-0159

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Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore whether highly educated refugees have the potential to become active members of the UK knowledge economy and to identify what socio-political factors are currently excluding/marginalising them. Design/methodology/approach – The empirical work consists of semi-structured interviews conducted with 15 highly educated refugees residing in the UK. The interviews, which contain theory-driven and open-ended questions, elicited how refugees themselves perceive their post-migration experiences, and especially their employment experiences in the UK. Findings – The participants do not perceive themselves as passive and incompetent, as they are often portrayed. They also claim that their exclusion/marginalisation from the UK economy is not due to any lack of qualifications and skills from their side, but due to ongoing discriminatory processes and to the long process of getting their qualifications validated. Research limitations/implications – The use of a single method and a cross-sectional design does not allow an understanding of whether and to what extent the findings apply to other disadvantaged populations, which could be clarified through a comparative, longitudinal study. Practical implications – Highly educated refugees have the potential to become knowledge-workers, but certain barriers they face suppress this potential. This is why future policies should continuously support refugee agencies and communities that play a vital role in refugees’ lives and work-related adaptation and encourage the creation of new ones where they are most needed. Originality/value – This research, by “giving voice” to the selected participants, reveals the existing contrast between highly educated refugees’ own perceptions and the negative socio-political discourse surrounding them and highlights the contribution that this population can make to the UK knowledge economy.

Item Type: Article
Research Area: Social work and social policy and administration
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Health and Social Care Sciences
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Depositing User: Maria Psoinos
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2011 13:06
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2011 13:06
URI: http://eprints.kingston.ac.uk/id/eprint/20148

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