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IKEA UK is marking a key milestone in its ambition to support refugees back into employment this World Refugee Day, as the brand celebrates the strength and resilience of 140 forcibly displaced people who have successfully completed the UPPNÅ Skills for Employment programme.
Since April 2021, the UPPNÅ scheme has provided training and an 8-week paid work experience placement to refugees in local communities, opening pathways to work by developing the skills required to gain employment, either inside or outside of the IKEA business. In 2023, 89% of UPPNÅ graduates have gone on to secure permanent roles at IKEA to date, and almost half of all participants that have completed the programme since its launch remain IKEA UK co-workers today, in retail stores and distribution centres across the UK.
Supporting IKEA’s mission to create a better everyday life for the many people, the initiative has transformed the lives of refugees throughout the UK and Ireland, and the brand is firmly on track to achieve its goal of providing 180 placements in three years (FY21-23) by the end of August. IKEA is also continuing its work to ‘Change the Narrative’ around refugees, highlighting their value to businesses, host communities and society at large by tackling common misconceptions.
IKEA works in partnership with Refugee Council Hubs across the UK to offer crucial support, advice and a place to come together for refugees. Refugees seeking support can access a range of services including CV writing, job application support, interview techniques and customer service training, as well as an introduction to the UK’s labour market.
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, says the number of forcibly displaced people worldwide rose dramatically to 108 million people at the end of 2022, including 36.5 million children and that the number will continue to rise. As of November 2022, there were 231,597 refugees, 127,421 pending asylum cases and 5,483 stateless persons in the UK.
Darren Taylor, Country People and Culture Manager, at IKEA UK&IE, said: “In the UK, we’ve been working to create a positive change with and for refugees in our neighbourhoods since 2016, through a combination of local projects, donations and IKEA’s own UPPNÅ Skills for Employment programme. Opening doors for refugees to access the labour market and build a better, brighter future here in the UK has never been more important than it is today. At IKEA, we believe that refugee integration is good for both business and society, and that we have a responsibility to stand with all those in need – by improving the long-term prospects for as many refugees as possible.”