According to the United Nations more than 70 million people around the world have been forced from home by conflict and persecution at the end of 2018. Among them are nearly 30 million refugees who seek for asylum in foreign lands. In 2018, the Netherlands granted asylum to more than 101,800 refugees.
However, having the asylum granted is just the first step to enable newcomers to build a new life. After settle in a new place, many people are willing to work, but it is important to highlight that you must observe the rules for work according to your status.
Newcomers can work as volunteer or in a paid job after a period of six months registered for asylum, even when still waiting for the refugee status. In this case, newcomers can work for a maximum of 24 weeks per year. Starting as soon as possible is important to build a network, get references, build a good CV, meet Dutch people, learn the language and gain perspective on the future.
Loubna Alsayed and Hilal Moesel have experienced that themselves. Originally from Syria, they started a new life in the Netherlands and had to find their own way to get back to the job market. Loubna Alsayed is a 43 year-old Syrian who came to the Netherlands in 2015 and Hilal Moesel is a 38 year-old Syrian who also arrived in the Netherlands in 2015 together with his wife. More than the same country of origin and destination, they both share the enthusiasm with their work as Consultant Business Services Status holders at WerkBedrijf Rijk van Nijmegen.
Regarding the process of adapting to a new country, Hilal Moesel emphasizes that it is not an easy step, and it takes a lot of effort, but being active since the arrival is the key point. “I have done a lot of volunteer work, such as translator, football coach, volunteer for carnival activities in Venlo, volunteer at UNICEF and Save Children, Wijkplein Boschveld in Den Bosch, and more. The language is also an important part. Choosing a good school and doing some practical training, such as volunteering, is an ideal plan to acquire and develop language skills” says Hilal. After two years in the Netherlands, Hilal got an internship, and the paid work came one year later.
Loubna Alsayed also worked hard to get the job position she wanted. “I wanted to use my own experiences to help other refugees who needed it. First I worked for welfare organizations in Nijmegen; after that I got a job at Spectrum Arnhem, where my goal was to connect Dutch people and newcomers. Last March, I started at WerkBedrijf Rijk van Nijmegen, where I guide status holders to work. My goal is to see how they can get work and what kind of help and support I can provide them” says Loubna.
According to a research published by the Dutch government, only 11% of Syrian refugees with a residence permit had a paid job in 2017. This number has grown to 34% in 2019. Also according to the study, Syrian status holders rated their lives in the Netherlands 8.2 on a scale of 1-10, which demonstrates that they are satisfied with the general living conditions.
Life in a new country can be full of exciting surprises, but it also demands determination, resilience and confidence to pursue your dreams and make them come true. It is never too late for a new beginning. For Loubna the most important thing is to learn the language, do some volunteer work and be informed about the promising professions in the Netherlands. That way the person can always adapt to the country’s needs. Hilal summarizes the advices in 5 steps: studying language at a reputable school; volunteering to acquire and develop language skills; considering an internship to experience what it is like to work in the Netherlands; practical training, or study training; and networking, networking, networking.
If you don’t know where to start from, have a look at these links and good luck!