Sheila Heard started Transitions London CIC (a career counselling and employment placement service for refugee professionals, especially engineers) in 2011 because of government cuts and lack of accessible information about the automatic entitlement and full permission which refugees have to work in the UK. Few employers are aware that refugee professionals are rarely hired, despite 25% being professional accountants, engineers or lawyers.

Syrian graduate mechanical engineer with 10 years’ experience:

“I came across a lot of obstacles for applicants like myself. In the internship section, applicants need be studying. For industrial placement, applicants’ experience should not exceed 12 months. For experienced applicants, these need recent (ie UK) experience & be eligible to apply for UK Incorporated or Chartered Engineer registration. I can apply for IEng but have no recent UK experience”

Transitions’ Recruitment Service for Engineering and Business Services:

“The positive action pilot program we regard as very successful with a good permanent hire percentage and we plan to continue to invest further this year and develop further the learning program content and framework”

Helen McCarthy – Lead Sponsor and People Director (Arcadis)

Sheila contacted Inspire2Enterprise in September 2013 when considering whether to continue trading. Andrew Cook advised Sheila on how best to organise and present the business plan and budget to potential corporate clients and funders, organisational structure and efficiency, partnering and alliances, and specialising in engineering and payment terms. Sheila says “The next steps are to introduce a proper management information system and a new position for a recruiter to grow the responsible recruitment service even more.”

With on-going support from Inspire2Enterprise, Transitions is hitting targets, producing regular income by placing refugee candidates in skilled employment (80 to date) and has a more structured model in place. There is more to do but the future looks bright. See