Refugees like Omar at Kier can help us build

Portrait photo of Omar - a Yemeni refugee working for Kier
Yemeni engineer Omar Alhuraibi had 20 years’ experience as a construction project manager, but struggled to find work in the UK industry (photograph courtesy of Omar Alhuraibi)

Is the construction industry overlooking a rich talent pool by failing to emply refugees like Omar, who now works for Kier?

Omar Alhuraibi is an engineer with some 20 years’ experience as a construction project manager in the UAE.

He was born in Yemen, a country ravaged by civil war since 2014. Several years ago, he sought asylum in the UK to rejoin his family, and was successful, but he struggled to have his skills, experience and qualifications recognised.

That meant he faced menial work at a time when the UK construction industry was crying out for people like him.

His story has a happy ending, as he tells Construction Management’s Cristina Lago in December’s 21CC podcast.

With help from charity RefuAid Omar found work as a sub-agent for Kier. He loves his work, and can’t imagine life without it.

RefuAid helps refugees find the work they’re qualified to do. The charity told us there are many like Omar who could be contributing to society with their skills, but who face severe underemployment because they lack UK experience and employers struggle to understand their qualifications.

They include engineers like Omar, plus neurosurgeons, teachers, lawyers and more.

Could the UK construction sector be overlooking a rich talent pool?

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