Nick Tiling: Providing jobs to refugees, building skills and creating pathways for self-employment

Creating multiplying opportunities for refugees who are otherwise marginalised by the local Australian market.
GCR Objective 2: Refugee Self-reliance

Nick Tiling: Providing jobs to refugees, building skills and creating pathways for self-employment

Creating multiplying opportunities for refugees who are otherwise marginalised by the local Australian market.
Man placing a tile in wall.

The project in brief

Implemented by

Nick Tiling Services Pty Ltd 




2017 - Ongoing

The projects operates by building and expanding relationships with broader construction industry. This means that as the project grows older and expands on size and skills of its employees, this project will continue into continuous growth cycle both in terms of lifetime and size. This will mean more refugees will be trained and more refugee entrepreneurs will be empowered to enter and find pathways to opportunities to the local labour market. 


Nick Tiling was established based on the lived experience of its founder who is a former refugee. It aims to create multiplying opportunities for refugees who are otherwise marginalised by the local Australian market due to lack of local experience, networks and relevant skills. While the enterprise provides jobs to refugees, it alleviates unemployment and dependency on welfare, up-skills and creates pathways for self-employment out of menial jobs and exploitation.



Project aims 

Key activities include:

  1. Offering employment
  2. Offering one on one and ongoing support to refugee employees to create their own businesses and continuum support throughout the development of their businesses
  3. Providing on the job English language training and acquisition of local businesses licenses
  4. Shifting public narrative by highlighting successful refugee entrepreneurs through local and national media

Resources used 

Nick Tiling’s founder, Hedayat Osyan while studying at University worked part time to save enough over the years an initial investment to set up the business. Nick Tiling also consulted for advisory support from community service providers. Since Nick had direct experience in exploitative work environment refugees faced, his strategic direction led him to embed a social impact in his business, i.e employ refugees to empower.


  • Ignite/Settlement Services International

Challenges and how they were overcome


  • The main challenge has been acquiring continuous flow of medium sized contracts to keep the trained employees employed on a longer-term basis. Another challenge is meeting the demand for specific support and ongoing cost of time expanded mentorship to refugees from starting to their business launch.

How they were overcome

  • We have developed a more strategic approach to draw larger contractors from the construction industry who have built longer term relationships with Nick Tiling.
  • The larger flow of income, has enabled Nick Tiling to expand on staff who provides ongoing on the job English language acquisition support and network building.



Results of the Good Practice 

  • Over 40 people have been employed since its inception.
  • More than 5 employees have since started their own businesses in the tiling industry.
  • As a result of one to one mentorship and tailored, gradual and growth-oriented employment, it has resulted to up-skilling of refugees employees breaking away from their previous menial roles, with many previous employees being promoted as managers and contractors.
  • As a result of in-built English language capacity building sessions and its application to their work environment, and bilingual language support, the current employees and those who have started their own businesses have learnt the industry language, built connections with the Australian business structures, networks and larger contractors. This has also translated into more robust and stronger business structures matching the local competitive business infrastructures.

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Refugees are remarkably resilient and resolute people with a lot to contribute. Meaningful employment is the hall mark of good settlement. Most often, for newly arrived refugees, breaking into the local employment market is a significant barrier. The support structure that exists to transition refugees into the local labour market often is limited, not sufficiently targeted and catered to the needs of refugees. So often refugees are either presented to work in menial jobs that do not match their skills and lead to down-skilling, or due to lack of local network and opportunities and training rely on social welfare to survive. This means that they are not enabled to self rely and will continue to struggle to feel productive members of society or ease pressure on host countries.

However, refugees are the most entrepreneurial group of migrant in Australia. However, support from federal and state governments has not yet invested in refugee specific entrepreneurship program. And even employment services for refugees rarely recognise or encourage entrepreneurship. While refugees have the right to work, the Government can take measures to foster self-reliance by expanding opportunities for refugees to access livelihood and employment opportunities. It is  however out of an environment of closed labour market to refugees, that businesses like Nick Tiling has emerged where it aims to build on refugee communities’ strength through assisting refugees with employment creation and income generation.

Businesses built, directed and led by refugees, do more than provide a job and an income; it is an opportunity to support their own families in dignity.  It boosts their autonomy, self-confidence and social status. And it helps newcomers learn English, build connections and give back to the society that has welcomed them and promote peaceful co-existence.

As Nick Tiling continues to expand and  its employees continue to replicate, improve and refine their businesses. This is possible because every refugee’s entrepreneurial aptitude, enthusiasm and experience is assessed, and appropriate training and specific support provided to prospective entrepreneurs, providing a clear pathway from pre-arrival to business launch. While this would entail an upfront cost, it’s an investment that would yield big economic and social returns.

Next steps 

Nick Tiling is aiming to branch out to all major cities in Australia by 2024 to positively change the national landscape of refugee employment.



More information on Hedayat Osyan with Tedx Sydney at: