Biniam Haddish, Electrical and Electronic Engineer

  • Origin: Eritrea

What were the issues keeping you out of work?

  • An MSC helped: Initially, although I was an experienced Graduate overseas, I felt I needed to transfer my engineering skills to UK/EU specifications and learn some more, so I decided to take a UK MEng. I gained a First. My Eritrean Degree is seen as an HND by Naric and many employers.
  • UK Business Culture. In Eritrea it is not business practice to push yourself forward for a job. It is the norm not to! Graduates are allocated jobs in Eritrea and are not asked to present their hard and soft competencies. It took some time for me to acquire the understanding of what UK employers were looking for. I was playing the wrong game!
  • Very stressful Refugee situation. It is enormously difficult to be forced to move countries by persecution, lose your job and home. There is little assistance in the UK and I had to restart my life under a lot of stress. It is very hard to have to claim asylum, sort out housing, financial assistance, try not to succumb to depression – and try to find a professional job. Getting refugee status did not result in additional help to find a job. I had to struggle. Jobcentre Plus were not helpful at all - in fact the opposite. Many employers don’t understand what refugee status is. Most recruitment agencies want 3 years’ references – ideally UK references. Graduate employers want UCAS points.

What things made a difference?

Learning from experience how to job search effectively. I got better at jobsearch after a lot of false starts.

Transitions support When I came across Transitions on LinkedIn I started using their services. That definitely fast-tracked things. They invited me to apply to National Grid via their agency and provided workshops and 1-1 support to assist with that.

UK Engineering work experience: My internship at the time when I was doing my MSc really helped me to become more familiar with UK business culture. The engineering principles were quite similar to my existing experience.

How is your career going now?

Great. I have a well paid job with great CPD and prospects.

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