Amazon, Marriott and other companies promise to hire thousands of refugees in Europe

Multinationals like Amazon, Marriott and Hilton pledged on Monday to hire more than 13,000 refugees, including Ukrainian women who fled war with Russia, over the next three years in Europe.

Just before World Refugee Day on Tuesday, more than 40 companies said they would hire, connect to work or train a total of 250,000 refugees, 13,680 of whom would get jobs directly at these companies.

“Each issue is the story of an individual family who have left everything behind, seeking safety, protection and a desire to be able to rebuild as quickly as possible,” said Kelly Clements, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees. “So the commitments the companies are going to make on Monday are absolutely critical.

She says 110 million people have been displaced globally, including around 12 million from Ukraine, nearly half of whom live in Europe after the continent’s largest refugee movement since World War II.

The recruitment campaign in Europe was organized by the Tent Partnership for Refugees, a non-profit organization founded by Chobani CEO Hamdi Ulukaya that connects businesses and refugees, and is being unveiled at a rally in Paris . The group’s first summit in the United States last year led to commitments to hire 22,725 refugees.

In the new round, Amazon leads the pack, pledging to hire at least 5,000 refugees over the next three years in Europe, followed by Marriott and Hilton with 1,500 each, Starbucks and ISS with 1,000 each, and pledges smaller brands like Adidas, Starbucks, L’Oreal, PepsiCo and Hyatt.

“It’s good for us as a company because the ability to add diversity to our workforce will continue to make us a stronger company,” said Ofori Agboka, vice president of Amazon in charge of human resources. “Diversity brings innovation, creativity, different perspectives.”

He said the vast majority of jobs will be hourly roles in processing and storage centers and in transportation and delivery.

Amazon announced 27,000 job cuts earlier this year, part of a wave of layoffs after tech companies ramped up hiring during the COVID-19 pandemic. These layoffs mainly affected salaried office jobs, Agboka said.

Daria Sedihi-Volchenko fled Kyiv last year and now works in Warsaw, Poland, as a senior program manager for an Amazon Web Services program offering free technical training to Ukrainians. She says about 40% of those enrolled in the program have no technology background.

“I lived the same path that many of our learners (…) go through,” she said. “I had to learn, and I made a commitment on my interview. I said, “OK, if we can agree and I can start working for you, I promise to learn Polish and I promise to learn some technical skills.”

A year ago, Sedihi-Volchenko woke up to the explosions of the Russian invasion.

“I was terrified. I was so scared for Ukraine, for the nation, for the future, for my own life,” she said. “But it was also a shocking moment when I realized that everything in my life was changing.”

She started living in basements but left when Russian forces approached Kiev. She drove 40 hours to reach Moldova, grateful that she “didn’t drive over a single landmine and nobody shot at my car”.

She moved to Poland to find work, embarking on an IT path after working as a project manager for ministries and as an economist in Ukraine.

Businesses hope the refugees will be able to meet their staffing needs after the economy rebounds from the pandemic. In Europe, unemployment is at its lowest since the introduction of the euro in 1999.

“We are seeing record levels of demand for our properties in many markets here in Europe,” said Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano. “So we are recruiting aggressively to make sure we can accommodate our customers as demand increases.”

Marriott jobs will largely be hourly positions like housekeepers, kitchen staff and front desk attendants.

European nations welcomed Ukrainians, and while Clements applauded the opening of schools, workplaces and other opportunities, she said the same should be offered to others fleeing conflict and crises in places like Syria, Sudan and Afghanistan.

Sedihi-Volchenko knows the challenges ahead for refugees, although some companies offer help with language skills, counseling and training. Job postings can be difficult to decipher, and like her, they may struggle to get a stable internet connection or work clothes.

“It’s important to give a refugee just enough time to learn the language, but the person can start working because if you bring experience with computer systems or finance or project management or whatever domain, of course, you understand, it’s not so much a question of language. . You understand the workflow,” she said.


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