Scotland providing opportunities for skilled refugees

Marina Brizar is the UK and Europe Director of Talent Beyond Boundaries

SCOTLAND is benefitting from the Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot Programme, which seeks to place talented refugees with corporates and organisations looking to fill crucial, high-skilled jobs. 

The initiative, born from a partnership between Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB), a non-profit organisation which helps connect displaced people to employers, and the UK government, has placed its first workers into jobs with Scottish organisations.

With assistance from Fragomen, the world’s leading provider of immigration services, and the Scottish Government, TBB plans to place 50 displaced individuals into employment in Scotland before the end of 2023.

In total, eight refugees have so far been placed in Scotland by TBB since the start of the year. The latest placement sees a young Afghan cybersecurity specialist join the Glasgow office of global law firm Ashurst, which advises businesses, financial institutions and governments on transactions, disputes and projects. The seven other refugees, also from Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan and Syria, have been placed in healthcare roles in Aberdeen and Glasgow.

The Programme is based on the win-win principle of sourcing talented staff for organisations while also contributing to a solution to the global refugee crisis. It has already brought 258 skilled refugees to the UK for employment over the past 18 months.

Marina Brizar is the UK and Europe Director of Talent Beyond Boundaries and a former refugee from Bosnia herself. Her expertise and advocacy in international talent mobility and refugee empowerment have contributed to creating inclusive solutions and promoting the rights of displaced individuals.

Marina said: “It’s great to see this initiative take root in Scotland in recent months and realise benefits for refugees and organisations alike. This success is down to a great deal of engagement across a wide stakeholder community, and our objective now is to reach that target of 50 placements in the months ahead.”

Natasha Catterson, a Partner at Fragomen in the UK, said: “In addition to serving as a partner to TBB to help place refugees with employers across the UK and around the world, we are thrilled to have been able to hire several talented individuals this year who have already contributed so much to Fragomen.”

Melanie Todd, Head of Risk Assessment & Business Protection at Ashurst, said: “We’re pleased to be taking part in this programme and providing someone the opportunity to build a career and a new life in Scotland. It’s clear that this is a mutually beneficial way of addressing talent gaps and a really positive contribution towards increasing diversity in the legal landscape.” 

Emma Roddick, Scottish Government Migration Minister, said: “Backed by £83,000 in Scottish Government funds, this brilliant initiative is supporting refugees and their families to resume their careers, rebuild their lives, and contribute to their new communities.

“With businesses also benefitting from hiring talented employees, this programme highlights how people born outside the UK make an important contribution to Scotland’s economy and society.”

TBB regularly engages with Scottish-based employers in the subsea, legal, manufacturing and digital sectors as part of its strategy to promote the programme and has also held meetings with representatives of the Scottish Government, COSLA, the Scottish Refugee Council, Just Right Scotland and industry leaders in finance and technology.

Additionally, the organisation has participated in a Winning the War on Talent event hosted by the Centre for Engineering, Education and Development in March which focused in part on the challenges manufacturing employees face in filling roles in disciplines such as engineering, welding and project management. 

To make it easier for employers to identify potential employees, TBB boasts a talent catalogue with more than 60,000 registered professionals covering over 150 occupations, including in-demand roles such as engineering, law, IT and healthcare. Applicants in turn receive priority processing from the Home Office as default, and a dedicated helpdesk for Displaced Talent applications. The pilot also includes flexibility around administrative barriers such as accessing passports or travel documents.

Fragomen and TBB have campaigned in and around UK government to highlight the wider issue of the restricted access to labour pathways for skilled refugees. Until recently, it was virtually impossible for refugees to accept a job offer and move to the UK, often due to practical reasons such as a lack of documentation. 

Working in tandem with Fragomen, TBB’s preferred immigration services partner, the visa process for a company’s new recruit can be relatively uncomplicated – provided they meet certain criteria. In addition, family members are welcome as is the case with any other Skilled Worker Visa. After five years they are able to apply to stay permanently.

For more information about Talent Beyond Boundaries, please visit or email:

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