The Open Doors Initiative provides employment opportunities to refugees, asylum seekers, young people, and people with a disability. At the Global Refugee Forum in 2019, employers willing to take part in the initiative pledged to offer opportunities, including training, apprenticeships, community support, and employment for people most in need in Ireland. Since then, there has been significant progress – despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of beneficiaries has increased by 300 per cent.
Thanks to the Open Doors Initiative:
41,870 people successfully completed an intervention led by a participant company, improving their employment prospects through the development or enhancement of new skills tailored to their market.
3,773 people have sustained paid (at minimum wage or better) and relevant employment.
42 people established a company (either self-employed, partnership, or limited entity) which is currently in either the start-up or trading phase.
The company spent €1,702,110 to fund or support programmes and participation.
457 barriers (monetary, language, physical or virtual accessibility, etc.) were removed through actions by, or on behalf of, the company.
Jacqueline Nabbumba has been in Ireland for 3 years. Under the family reunification programme, she left Uganda in 2019 and joined her husband who has refugee status in Ireland. After struggling to get a job at first, she heard about the Open Doors Initiative through an employment office of the Irish Refugee Council. She has agreed to share her experience.
What was difficult about getting a job in Ireland at first?
The difficulty in securing an interview was the biggest challenge, in my opinion, which was attributed to the way my CV was. This had to be corrected. When I started getting interviews, I was asked if I had ever worked in Ireland. My answer was always no because I had never got an opportunity […]. I would get feedback that “your interview was good but we need someone with more experience in Ireland”.
How has this programme helped you since you started? Is there an achievement that you are most proud of?
I got an opportunity to work with William Fry, one of the biggest law firms in Ireland. It was for a period of two months, but created an impact on my resume and [I am] forever grateful for this placement. It gave me a feel of what is done in Irish corporate offices/environment because before that, I was always asked if I have ever worked in office in Ireland during my interviews, so now I proudly answer this question.
The other thing is the mentorship programme with Open Doors. It was a programme every fortnight that I always looked forward to. It prepared me physically and emotionally in my new career path – preparation of my CV, mock interviews, recommendations, referrals, Google Excel lessons, and many more activities [that] my mentor used to create for me.
What comes next for you?
I am currently doing my FE-1 exams. I hope to progress in my legal career. (Editor’s note: FE-1 is the entrance exam to the law society of Ireland.). I plan to proceed with training as a solicitor. As an advocate of human rights, I hope to continue using the skills and expertise attained as a solicitor in Ireland.
In the long term, I plan to become a judge. I would like to take on leadership responsibilities because of my desire to serve people.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I want to extend my sincere gratitude to the Open Doors Initiative for the opportunity they gave to me. Not only did they give an opportunity, but also continued to follow up of how I am progressing with my career. I am always happy that I am not alone in the next step because I get advice of every step I am about to take in my career path.
Open Doors Initiative has the ambition of scaling up the program to include more Irish companies, and NGOs working in this area to further help people like Jaqueline and make a real impact. Find out more and get involved by visiting their website.