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Failure to use skilled refugees.

Highly-qualified ref- ugees and asylum seekers are being ignored for jobs in their chosen profession, resulting in a 'scandalous waste' of their skills, a new report warns.

The country is failing to make the most of experienced health pro- fessionals, scientists, engin- eers and other workers, according to a leading refugee charity.

The Council for Assisting Refugee Academics (Cara) estimates there are 1,500 doctors, dentists and other health workers living as refugees in Britain, but only a few are employed in their profession.

A further 2,000 refugees are highly skilled in engin- eering, science, education, healthcare and computing, but are not employed to the same level as they were in their country of origin.

The council said it could cost as little as pounds 1,000 to prepare a refugee doctor to practise in the UK compared with pounds 250,000 to train someone from scratch.

Other professionals such as engineers and scientists could have their skills updated for less than pounds 12,000.

At a time when there are shortages in many key areas of the economy, such as engineering, science and medical professions, many refugees with precisely these skills are unemployed or undertaking unskilled jobs, the council complained.

John Akker, Cara's executive secretary, said, 'This is not only a waste, it is scandal that more is not done, given that often the applications that Cara receives for support are from people with skills in areas where we are crying out for key workers.

'Just a small grant from Cara can change a refugee's whole life and give the UK a key worker. However, the charity cannot fund all the applications it receives and many go unsupported.

'We urgently need greater resources and guidance for refugees to stop pools of talent remaining untapped.'

Frances O'Grady, deputy TUC general secretary, said, 'It is tragic that so many talented individuals are denied the opportunity to maximise their potential, especially when we are crying out for their skills in so many areas.'
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 23, 2005
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