Welcome. Working for refugee integration
The project in brief
"I love this job too much. I found all the colleagues like a family. They help you, if there are things I don't understand they explain, everyone lends a hand, so the work becomes easy and they do it from the heart, there is no discrimination, nothing negative. I like it a lot."
- Sandra, a refugee employed by Ikea
The project is implemented by UNHCR Rome Multi-Country Office/PSP Italy in Italy. It began in January 2017 and is currently ongoing.
The programme "Welcome" promotes the inclusion of refugees into the Italian labor market through the creation of corporate partnerships between companies and civil society organizations, aimed at co-designing job inclusion pathways and promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) policies. As part of the programme, UNHCR recognizes each year an award, a logo, to companies that have promoted the employment of refugees.
The programme aims to bridge between the business sector, civil society organizations and refugees to facilitate their job inclusion and their contribution to the economy of the hosting country.
Main activities of the Good Practice
Based on a whole-of-society approach, the Welcome programme consists in finding decent work for refugees, in line with their skills and expectations by promoting the establishment of corporate partnerships between companies and local NGOs, aimed at co-designing job inclusion pathways for refugees.
To this end, in the context of the Welcome programme, UNHCR promoted the establishment of a network (WelcomeNet) of 83 CSOs supporting the project at the local level, by ensuring that refugees profiling was undertaken and that job pathways were accompanied by mentorship and supporting activities to both companies and refugees.
The Welcome programme also includes two awards that are yearly recognized by UNHCR, i) to companies which have promoted refugees’ job inclusion; and ii) to civil society organizations which have provided support to the companies.
In the context of the Welcome programme, UNHCR has also developed several tools, including a web-platform (Welcome-in-one-click) to be launched in October 2023, which will allow the scalability of the programme in the years to come which is predicted to grow.
The project also has a strong communication component built jointly with companies on refugee success stories. As part of the programme, a public event is organized every year to award the companies with the Welcome logo with the presence of representatives of the relevant national Institutions as well as of the employers' and trade union associations.
"Thanks to the programme, more and more companies are recognising the importance of an inclusive approach to work, in a socio-economic context characterised by persistent challenges such as xenophobia and racism. Promoting inclusion fuels innovation, enriches relationships, and has a positive impact on tax revenues and the economy as a whole"
- Angela Balducci, Sustainability Manager, Lavoro+
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
- The holistic approach of the programme and the involvement of all the relevant actors.
- Flexibility and capacity to adapt to the changes in the composition of the community of refugees and of the political and economic context.
- Positive attitude vis a’ vis refugees of the Italian private sector which the project contributed to enhance.
- Provision of relevant support by specialized partners.
- Italian Ministry of Labour
- Italian Ministry of Interior
- Confindustria (main Italian employers’ association) - https://www.confindustria.it/en
- Global Compact Network Italia
- Associazione Italiana Direttori del Personale (AIDP) (Italian HR Officers Association)
- Assolavoro (Italian Association of Labour Agencies)
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
- Concentration of the majority of work opportunities in areas of the country with a lower presence of refugees and challenges in obtaining support for refugees’ mobility.
- Difficulties in reaching out to refugees to share job opportunities.
How they were overcome
- Strengthening the support by civil society organizations in facilitating mobility through assistance in securing housing solutions.
- Through the creation of a web platform to disseminate job opportunities to all registered refugees.
Results of the Good Practice
- 22,354 job inclusion pathways were provided by 522 companies awarded with the “Welcome” logo in 5 editions of the programme.
- Establishment of a network of 83 CSOs supporting the project in 17 Regions of Italy
In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
By ensuring refugees' job inclusion
Next steps are: the launch of a web platform to facilitate the dissemination of job opportunities and the contribution that the Welcome programme is expected to give to the labour corridors which the Italian Government is about to launch.