I arrived to the UK as a refugee from Afghanistan with my mum, a kick-ass civil engineer with experience spanning the globe who spoke four languages including English fluently. Like many other talented members of our community she faced significant challenge finding work that made use of her ample talent.
This story sadly isn’t unique, or even uncommon. Refugees with advanced degrees and valuable skills still face shocking levels of unemployment or underemployment worldwide. And harmful societal attitudes mean that this situation might even get worse.
Chatterbox connects the problem of underutilised refugee talent with an opportunity in the demand for their language skills.
We train and employ displaced people to teach their native languages in the booming online and in-person language learning industry.
The hourly rate we charge for tutoring provides an income for refugees at the Living Wage foundation rates and above and also fuels our operations. 50% of our revenues and profits are re-invested in activities benefiting refugee employment.
The beauty of this solution is that it provides meaningful employment for refugees whilst plugging the language skills shortage estimated to cost the UK economy about 3.5 per cent of GDP. This two-way mechanism for integration helps us see refugees as an asset rather than a burden on host communities.
And using a tiny bit of tech, including online booking and video classrooms, we can connect with refugees and learners from all over the world.