Refugee Assets in Australia

About the case study:

With the support of the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) and in partnership with the Asia Disaster Reduction and Response Network (ADRRN), Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund hosted an innovation capacity-building workshop in Jakarta, Indonesia, during the week commencing 29 May 2017 for organizations working in the Asia-Pacific region. The HIF and ADRRN invited newly formed and early stage partnerships, with the lead organization based in the region. This case study was developed based on the workshop.


Large numbers of refugees are educated and held skilled and professional jobs before fleeing. This talent pool is currently hidden from global employers that need to fill talent gaps. Although labor mobility as a potential path for refugees has been the subject of academic writing for years, Refugee Talent is an entity currently working to establish this. The goal is to place refugees in jobs in countries around the world where they can regain their self-reliance through private sector employment. Refugee Talent has developed an online “talent catalog” where refugees enter information about their work experience, education, and skills. Host International (HI) aims to extend the pilot project to Nauru and the Asia Pacific region, in partnership with Refugee Talent with a goal of identifying practical and replicable solutions to the barriers that have previously prevented labor mobility for refugees in the region.


Many current host governments prohibit the displaced from working or moving freely outside camps established to temporarily house them. The consequences of long term displacement include aid dependence, stagnation of skills and professions, violence and exploitation, which devastates lives and leads to conflicts between the host communities and the displaced. Most host countries are developing nations with their own infrastructure, health and sanitation needs – they have a responsibility to their own citizens that they may struggle to fulfill. Some countries have the will but not the capacity to improve the conditions of the displaced. While this partnership is being implemented initially in Nauru, there is a desire to apply the model in other regions of the Asia Pacific and beyond. Traditional resettlement pathways are not sustainable and solutions are needed in places where refugees are and employment is a key factor in improving well-being and independence. Providing new opportunities to people who have been forced to flee their homes to find safety, employment and independence, provides humanitarian relief to both the displaced and their host countries.

Approach / Stakeholder participation

Refugee Talent brings expertise in: -IT entrepreneurship -Leading research and policy in labor mobility for refugees -International refugee advocacy and human rights law -International corporate and strategic partnership development and outreach.
HOST International brings expertise in: -Employment Services supporting economic independence for refugees via job placement, career planning, access to vocational training and self-employment support. -Individualized casework and support services for refugees with temporary, ongoing or complex needs, using strengths-based and trauma informed practice and focusing on community integration. -Capacity building to improve host country ability to support and understand refugee needs, and for refugees to develop independence and personal agency. -Strategic community and corporate partnerships with a focus on expansion within the Asia Pacific and experience working closely with other stakeholders to achieve community outcomes. -Staff with 20+ years’ experience working directly with vulnerable populations, including refugees. – flexible and agile.


More than 40% of employers worldwide reported difficulty finding skilled workers, while refugees with these skills languish in exile. TBB is creating a private sector solution to this challenge by linking skilled refugees with employers with skill gaps. While there are organizations working to match skilled refugees with employment locally, TBB is the only organization seeking to establish international labor mobility as a new pathway for refugees. The partnership between TBB and HI will change the image of refugees in the region and provide the first opportunity to use labor mobility as a tool to restore self-reliance to these refugees. TBB working with HI will provide a genuine alternative to traditional and unsustainable resettlement pathways. The model covers the 4 Ps of innovation: -Product innovation: introducing a new product to allow refugee communities to access the international job market through skilled migration pathways. -Process innovation: establishing global partnership networks comprised of employers, NGOs, research and policy professionals, refugee support services, legal professionals and the UNHCR to support the process of refugees applying for skilled migration opportunities. -Position innovation: shifting the position of skilled migration as an option for refugees and giving the international private sector access to this hidden market. -Paradigm innovation: shifts the paradigm of settlement options for refugees to include skilled migration.


Providing talented and skilled refugees with global employment will enable refugees to provide for themselves and their families. Humanitarian assistance can be better focused on those who are unable to support themselves. Employers with hard-to-fill jobs will benefit from an untapped talent pool. Communities in the receiving countries will gain talented workers who contribute to the completion of essential development projects, bring diverse skills to the workforce, and bolster local economies. Through international employment, refugees can continue to enhance their careers and gain new skills that are valuable for post-conflict economic recovery in source countries. Labor migration can be a crucial element of the comprehensive approach to supporting and empowering refugees. The goal is to create a viable private sector solution for refugees around the globe and improve attitudes about refugees. The plan is to scale up to connect tens of thousands of displaced people to international employment around the world via an online platform. Once established, this approach can be used to provide employment opportunities and improve the plight of uprooted people in a variety of global settings by generating economic independence.