Unlocking refugee talent with Barclays Lifeskills, LinkedIn and Microsoft
Three people working together around a laptop

Unlocking refugee talent with Barclays Lifeskills, LinkedIn and Microsoft

Together we're taking on two of the UK’s toughest employment challenges: finding meaningful employment for refugees; and developing the digital skills needed for today’s economy.


Breaking Barriers

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At Breaking Barriers, we know refugees are four times more likely to be unemployed[1], but at the same time as our talented clients are struggling to access meaningful employment, employers are struggling to find people with the necessary skills for roles, especially digital skills.

According to the 2023 LinkedIn Economic Graph Skills-First Report[2], industries struggling to hire could increase their talent pool up to 20 times with a skills-first approach. This is especially pronounced in industries such as Education, Consumer Services, Retail, and Administrative and Support Services. These industries require skills that may overlap across occupations and industries.

Many of our clients are keen and qualified to enter these industries but are locked out due to the additional barriers they face, such as the struggle to access technology that enables them to practise the much-needed digital skills for today’s modern workplace.

One client, Joy, talks about the support Breaking Barriers offered her to overcome this challenge:



I struggled with computer skills, but thanks to Jolie, a volunteer who mentored me in digital literacy, my confidence began to increase. I slowly learned how to search for things on the internet, create a CV, and save files on my laptop. All of this helped me become more independent.

My dream is to become a nurse because many people have shown me love and kindness during my difficult times. The best thing I can do is give back to society, helping people, just as others helped me.

Joy, Breaking Barriers client




Today we launch a new programme with Barclays LifeSkills, LinkedIn, and Microsoft, Unlocking Refugee Talent. The programme has been created to support refugees to be job-ready and develop essential employability and digital skills. It is a collaborative partnership which draws on the resources, talent and skills programmes of each organisation, and we’re thrilled to be working together.



A lack of digital skills is often a significant barrier into employment for any job hunter. For refugees, the digital skills obstacle is further exacerbated as they find it four times harder to access employment.

Unlocking Refugee Talent is breaking down the digital skills barrier by drawing on the resources, talent and offers of all the partners. Together, we aim to help refugees find meaningful employment while also starting to fill a UK-wide workforce gap in digital skills.

Matt Powell, CEO, Breaking Barriers



The ambition is to find meaningful employment for refugees enrolled on the programme and to start to fill a workforce gap in digital skills. The first-of-its-kind initiative will initially support 250 refugees over 18 months.

[1] Asylum migrants are less likely to be in employment than the UK-born and other migrant groups, Refugees and the UK Labour Market (2019) https://www.compas.ox.ac.uk/2019/refugees-and-the-uk-labour-market/ 

[2] https://economicgraph.linkedin.com/content/dam/me/economicgraph/en-us/PDF/skills-first-report-2023.pdf