Open Doors Initiative: employing refugees

Providing employment opportunities to marginalised members of Irish society.

Open Doors Initiative: employing refugees

Providing employment opportunities to marginalised members of Irish society.

Contact details

Submitted by: Jody Clarke, Senior External Relations Associate

Email: [email protected]


Social: @UNHCRIreland


Introduction to the project 




2018 – present


The Open Doors Initiative provides employment opportunities to some of the most marginalised members of Irish society:

  • Refugees, asylum seekers and non-native English speakers
  • Young people under 25 with educational barriers
  • People with a disability

In September 2018, 14 Irish employers came together with a plan to address the barriers to employment faced by these three groups and to support their path into employment. The number of employers continues to grow, and the government is fully supportive of the initiative.

This project aims to fulfil the GCR objective regarding the enhancement of self-reliance amongst refugee communities.

The benefits the initiative will be two-fold – it will open up the labour market to some of those who have been unable to access it, and in doing so, Ireland will attract and retain future workforces.

Main activities of the Good Practice

  • Each employer signs a pledge to provide opportunities in the workplace. This includes training, placements, apprenticeships, community supports and employment opportunities for the people most in need in Irish society.
  • Individual employers have created programmes that work with people from immigrant or refugee backgrounds and features pre-employment training, one-to-one guidance and opportunities for work experience. Other programmes include:
    • A programme targeted towards refugees and asylum seekers that provides an eight-week training in hospitality skills, followed by a four-week on-site work placement in a pub, hotel or restaurant. 
    • A programme that supports refugees to understand, appreciate and integrate successfully into Irish society and to facilitate language acquisition.
  • UNHCR is a supporting partner and drafted a toolkit for employers who wish to hire refugees. This has been published as part of a guide for employers who wish to employ people from all three groups. This toolkit includes information about CV writing, interview techniques, behaviours in the workplaces, and other elements useful in this context.


  • An Cosán Virtual Community College (VCC)
  • Business in the Community Ireland
  • Central Remedial Clinic (CRC)
  • Disability Federation of Ireland
  • Dress for Success Dublin
  • Empower (Fingal)
  • Exchange House Ireland National Travellers Service
  • Ibec
  • Immigrant Council of Ireland
  • Irish Centre for Diversity
  • Irish Congress of Trade Unions
  • Irish Refugee Council
  • Irish Youth Foundation
  • Peter McVerry Trust
  • Positive2Work Skillnet
  • Rehab Group
  • Trinity Centre for People with Intellectual Disabilities (TCPID)
  • WALK

Results of the Good Practice 

  • 74 employability programmes and more to come.
  • Potential impact on more than 1,000 people to date.
  • Collaborative approach created with government and state agencies, including the principal government departments.
  • Creation of the above-mentioned toolkit