• EDF Energy

    “I realised from our very first meeting the passion, expertise and proactive outlook .. takes to helping qualified refugees into full time employment. It is also clear that Transitions... is into the next stage of stakeholder engagement and that Transitions is making quite a remarkable impression on a range of stakeholders“

    Karen Elgy, Sustainability Performance Manager, EDF Energy
  • Crossrail

    “It is widely predicted that the UK will need more skilled engineers at both technician and graduate level. Transitions provides a credible source of engineers with the skills and experience to contribute to meeting this need. We encourage engineering companies to engage with Transitions to identify potential opportunities to meet their specific needs.“

    Bola Fatimilehin, Head of Diversity, Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Crossrail

    “Transitions provides an invaluable service for its highly-skilled refugee clients and KPMG has been delighted to run a series of employability skills workshops with them for teams of our volunteers. These have been insightful, impactful, rewarding and beneficial for all involved. A great way to put your skills to good use!“

    Corporate Responsibility Team, KPMG
  • National Grid

    "Transitions opens up an avenue for us to recruit a diverse graduate workforce. There's an option for recruiting to more experienced roles too. There's a real demand in the UK for highly skilled candidates in cables and tunnels and this presents a real alternative to find international people without the complexities around international recruitment."

    Sharon Goymer, Resourcing Manager, National Grid
  • Refugee Action Kingston

    "Transitions was able to identify a suitable candidate immediately and pass those details on. Our request was quite specific and only a short-term contract, so it did not attract a lot of general interest. without the use of the service, we may have been short of candidates. We recruited the Transitions candidate."

    Heather Knight, Project Manager, Refugee Action Kingston
  • Circle Housing

    “Demonstrating a clear commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility is an important component of being a modern, inclusive employer of choice. Working with Transitions really is a win win. Skill and talent are brought into your business that meet your business requirements. The team at Transitions have a rigorous matching service that makes it easy to support ready to work refugee professionals.”

    Jen Smith, Group Head of Diversity, Circle Housing Group
  • Crossrail

    "We gained a first-class civil engineer employee as a result of Transitions. The internship and intern was above our expectations.. The refugee community offers a good untapped market."

    Dawn Barker, Head of HR, Crossrail

Case Studies

On this page you'll find case studies from refugees who, aided with the help of Transitions, found their way back into work.

Sibhat Kesete, Accountant

In my country of origin

I grew up in a country where chances to join university are few. I was one of the outstanding students who made it to study in the only one university in the whole country (around 1000 per year). After finishing studies, graduates have to be assigned by the authorities to fill the gap of professionals in all sectors which is totally different from the UK.

In the UK

Here graduates have to compete to find jobs with hundreds of thousands if not millions and this was the main challenge for me to overcome. I had a good result (UK degree 1st class in Accounting) but that was only a prerequisite to make an application.

After one and half years of finishing my studies I registered with Transitions and that was the time i was able to understand how hard is to find a job with limited experience.

Different market expectations

Actually it was not only experience but the cultural differences, communication methods and how much effort you have to put into jobsearch. I went to many seminars where I found it very helpful to understand the so called soft skills during application process from filling forms to job interview techniques. Coming from a very conservative culture it is a big challenge to communicate soft skills to employers convincingly so they know what style of work you are going to bring to their organisation on top of the technical skills.

UK work experience

As we all know it entry point that is the hardest thing and it took Transitions and I a while. We decided to look for an internship (work experience - only travel and Lunch were covered). Honestly it was hard work and it took a lot of energy as I was working in a night shift cleaning job to pay my bills but the good thing is I was free from the Job Centre in all the time of my job search.

Successful jobsearch

Finally after so many disappointing results from interviews, after so many persistent quests from Transitions to guide me to fill out competitive application forms, after pushing me to have a second three months’ work experience with the same organisation, I think I possessed the required ability to talk about my soft skills as well as my finance skills in an interview and I got a job in my field of Accountancy. Now it is up to me to build my networks and look for future career advancement. I'd like to thank Transitions.

Daniel Debessai, Data Analyst Graduate Trainee

What were the issues keeping you out of work?

As a refugee there were quite a number of issues which keeps people out of graduate related work. The main issues were:

  • Lack of professional help from Job Centre. In fact there was constant pressure to find any casual job as soon as you can.
  • Lack of graduate related work experience in the UK like short internship programmes
  • Lack of understanding how the UK job market works
  • Lack of having network with professional individuals
  • Employers lack of knowledge about refugee status (most employers do not know that Refugees have full right to work in UK without immigration restriction)

What things made a difference?

The most important thing which made a difference during my job hunting was the services given by Transitions. Even though I was also trying hard to find a graduate job, Transitions services were what made a difference. I was getting a number of services from them like writing tailored CV, covering letter & application form guidance and a number of workshops with big companies, mock interviews and also most importantly making you believe in yourself that you have transferable skills.

How is your career going now?

Right now I am graduate trainee at the FDM Group (IT Consultant Company) which I came to know through Transitions. At the moment I am taking a core course which makes you ready to start a specific stream. I am discussing with technical advisors and account managers on choosing a right stream. It looks like I will probably be trained in Application Support Analyst which is a very good technical profession.

Looking back?

I wish I had known that a short term internship programme was very crucial when searching for a graduate job in the UK. I wasted too much time applying to graduate jobs without having UK statistics experience. Although I got there in the end.

Looking forward?

IT is a very broad profession, I want to have a real grasp of the technical side of it as soon as I can and work on clients’ sites hopefully soon.

Any suggestions?

Transitions are doing excellent work. On my opinion, they are the only social enterprise who understands professional refugees’ problems. Despite tough economic times, they managed to reach top employers and were able to pass their message across professionally. And on the other hand, refugees should keep their moral high and work harder, and they will definitely get there.

Kibreab Kidane, Accountant & Auditor

  • Current Employer: Auditor for Credit Unit
  • Origin: Eritrea

What's your professional background?

I have 20 years’ senior experience in Eritrea as an Accountancy Manager and Auditor, including working for the British Council in Asmara, Eritrea as their senior Accountant for 5 years, from 2004-2009. The British Council paid for my UK MSc in Audit. I had to claim asylum from Eritrea in 2009 because of political persecution.

How is your career going now?

I have just accepted an internal audit job offer from a credit union, following an audit internship, through the Transitions recruitment agency.

What were the issues keeping you out of work?

  • I had no assistance, in fact I had constant pressure from Jobcentre Plus to find any job – with no UK work references and not knowing about the way that UK employers recruit. I wasn’t getting any interviews and didn't really know where to start.
  • I was expected to restart my career as soon as possible with no integration support from any statutory bodies. Employers don’t know what refugee status is, and don’t value my overseas experience.
  • I was very traumatised, being forced to claim asylum because of persecution and here without my family. Finding a place to live, trying to reunite my family and the stress of trying to find a job with no help in a strange country is not easy.

What things made a difference?

I found Transitions through a friend. Transitions listened to me professionally, and found me an audit internship in a credit union. Transitions set up the structure of the internship and monitored it carefully.

Transitions provided me with extensive, relevant 1-1 accountancy careers information and advice and brokered the consultancy that I now have with the credit union.

They invited me also to a range of targeted workshops. I was a guest speaker at a Transitions conference, talking about my experience as a refugee professional looking for work in the UK to employers and to Jobcentre Plus colleagues. That gave me confidence and a voice in the market.

Anonymous, Senior Telecommunications Engineer

  • Current Employer: Female Senior Telecommunication Engineer for Virgin Media
  • Origin: Middle East

What's your professional background?

I have 4 years’ experience in my country as a Graduate telecommunications engineer. I was forced by the war to flee for my life in 2008. I borrowed a lot of money and did a UK MSc in Telecommunications, which I finished in 2011 with a Distinction grade.

How is your career going now?

After such a huge struggle looking for a job for over a year, I finally got a senior telecommunications engineering job with Virgin Media just before the Olympics began, through a recruitment agency that Transitions put me in touch with and encouraged to put me forward.

What were the issues keeping you out of work?

A range of things:

  • I had no UK work experience or UK work references, though 3 years’ Iraqi experience.
  • No specific services for me from Jobcentre Plus. They appeared to blame me for not having a job.
  • I was unfamiliar with competency based selection systems. We don't use that system in my country and, having no UK experience, it felt as if it was designed to keep people some people out!
  • I was already in a state of distress and insecurity at having had to flee from my country for safety and leaving my family, home and job. Housing was always a problem. I felt very unsupported both emotionally and materially in the UK.
  • Overseas Degree. I had a UK MSc and an overseas Degree. But NARIC and some employers and professional bodies viewed my degree as less than the value of a UK Degree.
  • I wasn’t a Member of the IET professional body. I am now.
  • Recruitment agencies wouldn't register me. They wanted UK experience and didn’t understand my refugee status document.
  • Refugee status Many employers don't know that refugee status is a proper status, with permission to work. There is often no box for refugees to tick that applies to their status. Definitely this affected my competitiveness.

What things made a difference?

  • Transitions
  • Talking with decision makers

Brunel University: I persuaded Brunel University to over-ride the NARIC opinion and accept my academic and experiential knowledge to pursue a Mobile Telecommunications MSc.

Guest speaker: I also made a presentation myself as a guest speaker at a Transitions network meeting with colleagues from Jobcentre Plus, aimed at enhancing services by Jobcentre Plus to refugees. That gave me a voice and more confidence.

The IET: I contacted and joined the IET as a Member, as advised by Transitions.

I also participated in a Transitions advisory network meeting with NARIC and the IET professional body, a recruitment agency and National Grid where we discussed some of the miscommunications to happen between these organisations and refugee graduate candidates. it was good to have that opportunity to talk for myself to decision makers.

Effective presentation: I was initially approaching employers without referring specifically to the competences listed in the job they were advertising and not getting interviews.

I built up a portfolio of information about my experience, and about the telecoms sector and the UK graduate recruitment system then started to frame my written applications better, using the competency system. Through Transitions I was interviewed by a major national employer for a job on their graduate trainee programme and got interview practice.

Impartial Advocacy from Transitions. Initially the agency who were doing the Virgin Media recruiting didn't shortlist me. Transitions called them to request the reasons why. As a result, the consultant put me forward a couple of weeks later for another role. Transitions assisted me to prepare for the phone and face to face interview, building up my self confidence, my ability to articulate my strengths and reasons for applying to Virgin Media and my positive approach to the interview.

I got the interview with Virgin Media, who I now work for, by putting in a good written application, with assistance from Transitions, that highlighted and targetted my strengths for that job and motivations to work for them.

How are things going now?

I'm now on the road to rebuilding my career, which was interrupted by the events in my country and further interrupted by the lack of information advice and support in the UK as a jobsearching refugee professional, which was very stressful. I was deeply depressed at some points. Transitions enabled me to learn how to approach the graduate labour market system here, have a chance to challenge and inform the decision-makers, and finally to compete effectively for the great job that I now have.

Anonymous, Project Engineer

  • Current Employer: Now employed in London by major US Engineering Company
  • Qualifications: Iranian Industrial Engineering Degree
  • Experience: 5 years’ Iranian experience, 6 months’ UK internship

What was the initial situation?

I was intensively looking for a planning engineering job in London and not getting interviews. I have an Engineering degree from Iran (2006) and 5 years’ experience in Iran working on major utilities and construction projects. In 2010 I registered with a lot of recruitment agencies and got nowhere. Either they promised me great things and came up with nothing or they told me that I didn’t have 3 years’ UK references and couldn't register with them. No employers interviewed me for a long time. My CV was good, though probably too long and wordy, looking back. In 2011 I registered with Transitions. They agreed with me that my CV itself wasn't a key problem, but that 2 things would help: UK work experience for orientation and a reference, and my written applications should be more closely targeted at the person specifications with better and clearer examples. I didn't know this before.

What was your work experience?

One day I decided to walk onto a building site and introduce myself as an engineer willing to volunteer in return for supervised experience with them. They liked my profile and took me on. They offered me great experience and training on Health and Safety, with a CSCS card. I was a supervised voluntary intern there for 6 months and at the same time continued intensively applying for jobs. The Jobcentre were expecting me to find a job as soon as possible and the pressure was quite difficult.

How did you find a job?

Through Transitions I got an interview with a major employer. I didn't get the job but it was great interview experience. The next interview I was less nervous and more familiar with the UK regulatory standards and UK cultural expectations at work - like not standing up when the boss comes in! Transitions helped me with several job applications and I gave myself a target date to find a job. Finally it all paid off and I succeeded in finding a planning engineering job with a major US company in London. In the interview I used a portfolio to back up what I was telling them with my certificates and written examples and photographs of my previous work.

Looking back?

I wish I had known what UK employers expect of job applicants more at the start. I wasted a lot of time making poorly presented job applications that I was unlikely to get anyway because I had no recent or UK references.

Looking forward?

My job is very pressured and difficult and I'm still finding my way but hopefully I'll be a Chartered Engineer in the next few years.

Any suggestions?

I would like to see UK engineering professional bodies assisting experienced refugee engineers to communicate with engineering employers better, for mutual benefit. As an experienced refugee engineer I really needed UK experience and orientation to find a job as an experienced engineer and struggled for a long time without that, even though I was already experienced and qualified. I was very professionally isolated. All the stress of finding a job was put on me, with no formal support from the engineering sector or from the Government.

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  A highly skilled refugee should rebuild their career for everyone’s benefit", Transitions Founder Sheila Heard speaks on Share Radio:

  Jon Hull, Group Head of Resourcing, Carillion Plc talks about inclusion of refugees in resourcing:

  Transitions services - Financial Services professional employed in London:

  Collaborating with other refugee supporting agencies - Louise Salmon RAGU London Met University: