This story was published 27 June 2018

Ten refugees living in North Yorkshire have taken a big step towards rebuilding their lives by completing a trade skills course at Harrogate College.

The refugees at Harrogate College with their certificates.

They all arrived as part of a project funded by the European Social Fund and the Big Lottery Fund set up in 2015 following the Government’s commitment to resettle 20,000 refugees displaced due to the crisis in Syria.

They are being supported by local authorities and charities to rebuild their lives and move towards integration and independence through activities such as volunteering, work placements, courses and group sessions.

One course was the basic construction skills introduction course commissioned by North Yorkshire County Council and provided by Harrogate College. The aim was to develop the language skills of the refugees, improve their confidence and act as a stepping stone towards accredited learning.

For six weeks the ten refugees studied bricklaying, plastering and joinery to gain the Harrogate College certificate in trade skills. Since doing the course, one refugee has found a job as a pizza chef in Harrogate and another as a part-time caretaker at a school.

The county council executive member for stronger communities, councillor David Chance, said: “Although there is no direct correlation between a skills course and being a chef, the refugees on the course showed a level of commitment and understanding which has opened doors.

“They have a confidence to go for jobs and they realise there is a lot to be gained from education and training. They are very much looking forward to using their new-found skills and going back to college to learn more so that they can get jobs and support their families.’’

Eight of the ten learners are now doing a welding taster course at the college.

Penny Garner, head of school for technology at Harrogate College, said: “It was a pleasure to run the construction taster course for the Syrian refugees and they all gained a college certificate at the end of the course. The students were very enthusiastic within that learning environment and skills were shared from tutor to student and vice versa.

“It was also a great opportunity to practice speaking English. Some of the students will now be going forward on to a welding taster course which will hopefully lead to some students starting their certificated qualifications.”