Employability Support Officer, Anita Yu, provides New Scots with training and encouragement to help them find work.

Tell us a bit about your job?

AnitaMy team works with people who have been granted refugee status to help them gain skills and find employment. We work one on one with clients to look at their existing skills, experience, and education, then help them identify career goals and routes to those goals.

We deliver employability training to help clients understand the UK job market, the processes involved and the language that’s used. Recruitment language can be quite confusing so we try to make sure people know what employers mean when they talk about ‘transferable skills’ and ‘qualities’. We also signpost clients to other services that can provide help with writing CVs and other employability support.

Another area of our work is engaging with employers – like Starbucks, Barclays, Glasgow Life, First Bus and others. We deliver a refugee awareness programme to give employers a better understanding of the skills refugees can offer and the challenges they face. I also work with employers to identify what they can do to help, for example, reviewing their recruitment process and adapting their application form and interview structure to make it more accessible.

What’s the best thing about working for Scottish Refugee Council?

I like seeing clients go through training, get into jobs and then see them progressing in those jobs. Also educating employers and developing their awareness. It’s really rewarding.

How has Covid-19 affected your role?

It’s had a big impact. We used to meet clients in the office. Now we’re doing a lot of phone calls instead. That can be tough for people who speak English as a second language, especially when they’re trying to understand a Glaswegian accent.

There has been less training since the start of lockdown as employers haven’t been recruiting, but this started to pick up at the end of 2020.

It’s also difficult to switch off when you’re working from your living room and your dining table is also your desk.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

We’ve had to rethink how we do training and the tools and materials we use. When you’re delivering classroom-based training, you can see how people are responding by reading their body language. You can’t do that over Zoom.

People are less likely to ask questions and are more reluctant to admit that they’re struggling to understand. It’s not as easy to run interactive sessions. Some clients don’t have a laptop, so they have to join the training on their mobile. Others don’t have WiFi access and have to turn their camera off to save data. It can be tricky.

Are there any positives?

Now that training is being delivered online, it’s no longer restricted to people in Glasgow. When sessions were being held in the office, they were only really available to people who lived locally. Now we’ve got people attending from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Dumfries and we’ve helped to recruit Arabic learning assistants from all over Scotland.

What’s helping you through lockdown?

I’ve been doing a lot more baking. I like the idea of putting things together and seeing what I end up with – and also eating it! Just now I’m experimenting with cookies. I’m sticking to simple flavours at the moment but once I’ve perfected the formula I’ll spice them up a bit.

I also set myself a fitness challenge by trying to do the plank every day. I started off doing a minute and tried to add 10 seconds each day. Eventually, I managed to get up to about 3 minutes.

Find out more about our Employment services. 
Rachel Lamb
Author: Rachel Lamb