Migration, Employment & Entrepreneurship

As American employers report a difficulty in finding “skilled labor,” a team of student researchers at Piedmont College think they may have found the answer, as well as helping solve another international dilemma.

“By 2018, there were 70.8 million individuals forcibly displaced as a result of persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations,” said senior business major Leslie Lopez, adding that their research focused specifically on Syria and Venezuela.

Lopez was presenting the topic “Migration, Employment and Entrepreneurship” at the 2020 Piedmont Symposium along with fellow senior business majors Rachel Irby, Julia Nichols, Wes Snyder, Mark Mitchell and Valeriya Zhurakovskava.

Statistics show extreme numbers for both regions. Syria with 6.2 million internally displaced with upwards of 11 million requiring humanitarian assistance. Venezuela has seen a 8000% growth in those seeking refugee status with roughly 4.6 million that have already left the country.

“Just like the Middle East, Latin America struggles to meet the needs of refugees and those of their populations.” said Lopez.

With countries struggling to meet needs of their refugees, this means there is not much work for these people, as Lopez stated, “Of 305 Syrian refugees, 82% of adults were unemployed, with 38% having a college education.” Lopez said.

 These statistics are high compared to those not being displaced. So, where do opportunities for employment come from for these people?

Rachel Irby passionately speaks on remote employment and how refugees can obtain jobs while in their situation. “HR has recently reported difficulty in recruiting due to lack of skills or candidates.” Irby said, adding that many refugees lack basic skills needed, such as “technical skills and soft skills.” “Some employers have found training to be useful in shortening the gap, but other employers have found alternative candidates in retirees and veterans or foreign countries.”

Remote employment would help prospective employers fill their gaps.

“Our team believes that the answer to filling labor market and skill shortages is through the refugee workforce by providing remote work opportunities,” said Irby. With remote work having 173% grown from 2005-2018, and 5 million Americans working from home, this seems to be the best solution for employing refugees who have migrated back to their home countries or have chosen to come to a new country for a new life. Remote work also shows benefits to the employers of these remote workers. Benefits including higher retention rates and cost saving for the firms.

Irby said the idea for the research came from their business professor Steven Carlson.

“Carlson approached Amplio recruiting, so he really decided to base our class about the research for Amplio’s fund,” she said. 

Upon researching the project there were things that caught the team by surprise. Senior Leslie Lopez said, “We were surprised by the amount of information that we found, and some days the information was overwhelming,” Lopez said. “We thought we would find a few articles that approached the subject, but instead of a few, we saw thousands of articles, studies, news, and data sets from all over the world.” Irby as well responded with what surprised the team as they dove deeper into their research. 

“We were all surprised about the effect the skill gap has on the U.S market,” Irby said. “More specifically, the jobs that are hiring cannot find anyone to fill positions because of the skill shortage in potential candidates.”

Carlson hopes for this research “to help build the case for impact investing to promote ventures that provide refugees with work opportunities.”

Lopez could not agree more with Carlson. “ I believe it is the future for employment.” she said. “The world is currently going through a health crisis, and we are seeing that many companies have their employees work remotely. Employers are having conversations n how to continue operations while not having staff in the company’s facilities and, this will tremendously help refugees, especially those who are displaced in their own country and struggle to find a job. with remote work, an individual is not dependent on local job offerings and can find one that fits their set of skills and qualifications.” 

We have the technology; it will be accessible in a way that once again is life changing. Through impact investing and properly integrating this technology the standard of living can improve worldwide. 

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