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Refugees given new jobs hope

Thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers will be offered training to launch them into the jobs market under a new alliance of organisations launched this week.

The Refugee Training Partnership has been established to improve the English and computer skills of refugees in central London. Training managers say 90 per cent of the 25,000 people who apply for asylum in the UK each year end up living in London, and face serious problems finding a job.

Estimates suggest about 6 per cent of the capital's FE students are refugees. Now the new organisation has been set up by the Central London and the City and Inner London training and enterprise councils and the Refugee Council.

The partnership, which covers 10 London boroughs, aims to offer refugees English language qualifications, computer courses and advice on careers and training.

The new organisation will have a five-year life, although managers hope their work will lead to longer-term local provision for refugees.

Its launch comes six months after an Association for Colleges survey warned that toughened benefit rules could force refugee students out of colleges in the capital.

Colleges warned that if asylum-seekers were denied benefits, that would remove funding for them to embark on courses.

Refugee Council chief executive Nick Hardwick said: "Many refugees face huge barriers to find the right training and developing their careers in this country.

"The Refugee Training Partnership will help break through these barriers by bringing refugee community organisations into partnerships which offer training and advice to their own communities and with existing agencies."

And Hampstead and Highgate MP Glenda Jackson said: Refugees and asylum-seekers have been forced to leave their home through fear, persecution, torture, even death, and having found safety in the United Kingdom, want to make a positive contribution."

A Europe-wide network of training schemes already exists to help refugees integrate into society.

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