London – Yassine steps for the first time onto British soil with a blend of excitement and relief. “I’m looking forward to starting a new life here,” he says, a sentiment deeply rooted in the challenges he faced back in his homeland.

His arrival in the United Kingdom marks the beginning of a new chapter filled with hope and anticipation. Originally from Palestine, Yassine’s path to the UK was paved by the Displaced Talent for Europe (DT4E) initiative, a collaborative effort led by the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Through this innovative project, displaced persons are offered avenues for labour migration to unlock their potential and have a chance at a fresh start. For Yassine, leveraging his skills and talents and contributing to the prosperity and welfare of society rekindles his sense of dignity, autonomy, and independence. 

Yassine’s narrative is a testament to the transformative power of pursuing one’s passion. As a nurse, he carries with him a deep-seated commitment to healing and saving lives. His determination to fulfill this calling is emblematic of the myriad of displaced individuals whose talents and ambitions remain untapped due to their legal and social status.

Despite being forced to flee their homes due to conflict or persecution, they harbour invaluable skills. Yet, their potential remains untapped as displacement status often hinders their access to the local labour market and labour migration pathways. 

Simultaneously, Europe faces a widening skills gap in crucial sectors. Demographic dynamics, amplified by shifting skills requirements stemming from the green and digital transitions and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on labour markets, have resulted in skills imbalances in different sectors and at different levels.

Displaced talent mobility serves as a catalyst in rebuilding identities, fostering social networks, and facilitating integration into new communities, in addition to resettlement as a tool of solidarity and responsibility sharing with those countries hosting the majority of refugees. As part of the onboarding process, IOM’s dedicated cross-cultural facilitators and partners will guide Yassine’s integration process, ensuring he thrives in his new community and workplace.     

Other than meeting the needs of employers faced with skill shortages, DT4E also represents a high-impact opportunity for entrepreneurs and private companies who want to make a difference. “If people in the UK were not kind to refugees, I would not even exist,” explains Mike Kammerling, a London-based graphic designer and owner of Good Humans, a product design firm he set up 15 years ago. 

“It’s not just our name, it’s who we are – we try to be good people,” Mike explains. His motivation to participate in the DT4E project is deeply rooted in his family history. “My grandparents came from Austria to the UK as refugees when they were very young,” he explains.

The DT4E project empowers entrepreneurs like Mike and his “Good Humans” product design firm to harness positive change in their workplace and societies. Photo credit: Abir Soleiman/IOM UK 

DT4E connects skilled displaced individuals currently based in Jordan and Lebanon, with employers and job opportunities in Belgium, Ireland, Portugal, and the UK. In practice, DT4E relies on a Talent Catalogue developed by IOM’s partner Talent Beyond Boundaries, which encompasses over 65,000 skilled profiles – a testament to the untapped potential of displaced talents. 

Just over a year ago, when Mike was looking to recruit a 3D designer, he came across the Talent Catalogue as an option to fill the vacancy. He found the process of recruiting both fascinating and terrifying because he felt that he was tasked with a big responsibility. “I really wanted for our new colleague to be successful in his pursuits,” he says.  

This is how Karim, originally from Syria, joined Good Humans. With vast experience working on 3D products, Karim is a person of many talents, Mike explains. “By working with Karim, I learned both new technical skills and more about the situation in Syria,” he says.

A growing number of countries are now recognizing the potential of complementary labour migration pathways, along with active education and employment policies, to address labour and skills needs effectively, and IOM has been at the forefront of innovative strategies.

To make displaced skilled professionals’ mobility a viable solution, governments, employers, and civil society organisations must work together to provide the necessary support and resources. In the framework of DT4E, IOM UK is working with Talent Beyond Boundaries, Fedasil, Alto Comissariado para as Migrações and Fragomen. 

DT4E is funded by the European Union.