Eleven refugees and migrants have been learning new skills to help them rebuild their lives in Coventry, thanks to training funded by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
The group – some of whom have fled to the UK from war-torn Syria – have just completed a customer service course with Coventry training provider PET-Xi, funded by the WMCA.
The aim of the ten-day course was to equip the refugees with the skills needed to help them gain new jobs in key sectors that are recruiting now, such as retail.
A training session on the customer service course
The interactive online training, which resulted in the learners gaining a Level 2 qualification in customer services, included dealing with complaints, communicating effectively, interpersonal skills and team working.
PET-Xi also helped the learners to take part by loaning laptops to Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, which is supporting the group to settle in the city.
The WMCA funded the training through the devolved £126m adult education budget, which is giving unemployed people and those in low-paid jobs the skills they need for careers in the region’s fastest growing sectors.
Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said: “The West Midlands is one of the most diverse and inclusive regions in the world, and I am pleased the WMCA has been able to play its part in helping some of our most vulnerable members of society rebuild their lives by getting them ready for work.
“Although this is an incredibly difficult time for the region’s economy, there are jobs available in several sectors, and we can help people get the skills they need to fill these vacancies. With more jobs set to become available as the lockdown restrictions ease and our economy begins to recover, I would urge everyone to check out our Covid-19 support site and think about improving their skills.
“Whether you are trying to get back into work, looking for a career change, or want improved qualifications to earn a promotion, the WMCA is here to help.”
Ahmad, one of the learners, said: “I learnt to make sure customers are satisfied, that I am always representing the organisation and to remain calm when dealing with difficult customers.”
Debbie Moss, advice services supervisor at Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, said: “Our Syrian clients have so much to offer to employers but often lack customer service and communication skills. This course has been invaluable in offering them training with the added bonus of the loan of up-to-date IT equipment, which they seldom have in their homes. I am confident that the skills acquired will prove useful to all the learners and lead directly to employment for some.”
Coventry City Council’s Migration Team works in close partnership with Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, particularly on issues of refugee employment.
Cllr George Duggins, WMCA portfolio holder for productivity and skills and leader of Coventry City Council, said: “With Coventry’s proud history of welcoming refugees, I’m pleased that the WMCA is funding training for adult learners through our refugee and migrant centre.
“This is helping to equip people who have experienced the trauma of civil war with the skills they need to rebuild their lives here.”
Fleur Sexton, managing director of PET-Xi Training, said: “Our role is to reach priority people in priority wards and to help them fulfil their potential by opening up opportunities for them within the community. We do this by breaking barriers through education and employment. We are deeply grateful to the WMCA for their vision for the region which enables us to do this vital work within the community.”
Anyone who would like to learn new skills can find out more about online courses funded by the WMCA at https://beta.wmca.org.uk/what-we-do/productivity-and-skills/online-resources/