Imagine immigrating to a completely foreign country over 3,000 kilometers away – one where you are unfamiliar with the people, the language and, of course, the labor market. To make such a move; to completely immerse yourself into different culture is a decision not easily made. And yet, it is not uncommon.Take Abrahem Ahmad from the Kurdish region of Syria.
“Like many others, I came here through Germany,” he tells us. “My wife had been living in Belgium for quite some time.” Getting a job was not easy. It took some time for the 33-year-old Syrian to find work. Three years ago, after struggling to get work, he got in touch with Randstad and finally found his footing.
Abrahem’s move from Syria to Belgium was not motivated by socio-economic reasons. His journey was driven by love. “I had a good job in Duhok”, says the 33-year-old, looking back on his time working in northern Iraq. “Ultimately, I moved to Antwerp for my wife, who’d been living there for quite some time.” The two settled in the Belgian city, where they are still living today.
Like many immigrants, Abrahem was struggling financially. Finding employment is often difficult for those with a different background. And when they do find jobs, working conditions are often suboptimal. Many immigrants face discrimination, are more likely to work hazardous jobs or face other suboptimal working conditions. Not to mention that many also lack the language skills for success in their adopted country. As a result, immigrants often face economic hardships – ones that are not resolved easily. The same was true for Abrahem.
“I informed Randstad about my financial struggles and told them I’d love to start working as soon as possible,” he recalls. Originally a computer engineer, Abrahem hoped to work in a similar field. Eventually, he was referred to RiseSmart Employability, a part of the Randstad Belgium business that focuses on helping vulnerable groups such as migrants and refugees. There he met Egle Rimsaite. She enrolled Abrahem in the Work for Integration program aimed at helping newcomers find a job. The program was initially created with Randstad partners in Italy and Sweden.
Work for Integration is backed by a variety of institutions and organizations such as the City of Antwerp and the Public Center for Social Welfare. Through the program, the partners help refugees in Antwerp find work. For younger job seekers, there are specialized programs that provide language training, on-the-job education and labor market orientation.
It was also through this program that Abrahem eventually found work. “I visited Randstad, and they called me back the very same day saying they had found not one but two jobs for me; I could choose,” he says.
According to Egle, Abrahem made quite the impression: “When he came in, he had to start from scratch, and I was immediately impressed by his motivation and drive,” she recalls.
Abrahem landed a job at Tech Data Belgium, a company which provides end-point solutions. “They found a job for me in data management so, I was very thankful,” he says - finally back where he belonged.
Upon arriving in Belgium, learning the language was without doubt his biggest hurdle. “I really wanted to learn Dutch but had very little time, and school wasn’t really an option,” Abrahem says. “I understand a lot of what other people are saying, but talking is quite difficult.”
Fortunately, Tech Data was more than willing to accommodate him. Bruno Wouters, the inbound shift manager at the company, took Abrahem under his wing. “Five or six years ago we’d only hire people that spoke Dutch flawlessly”, says Bruno. “Now, we welcome anyone with a basic understanding of the language. Even those who aren’t fluent will do just fine.”
RiseSmart and initiatives like Work for Integration are part of a bigger effort to improve work lives around the world . In 2017, Randstad set a goal to touch the work lives of 500 million people worldwide by 2030. An ambitious one, to be sure, but also one embedded in our DNA. Since the 1970s, our founder Frits Goldschmeding established a mission to deliver a tangible contribution to society. Over the years, we have adapted our goals to changing times. And through the process, we are underpinning our commitment to helping workers find employment and contribute to society’s overall economic growth.
We defined our ultimate goal by focusing on four primary drivers: contributing to economic growth, shaping the world of work, connecting with people and fostering inclusive employment. These drivers help us foster initiatives like RiseSmart and Work for Integration. To safeguard human rights, and help employ people like Abrahem, inclusion is of the utmost importance. Only then can we provide those facing barriers to the labor market with meaningful work.
Then, by staying present at all stages of a person’s career and providing training opportunities, Randstad makes sure people like Abrahem stay employable. In the long run, this will not only benefit them but our clients and ourselves too.
These programs we have helped to create certainly benefited Abrahem and Tech Data. Not only does he have a great job, it’s one that matches his skills well.
“I’m over the moon about my work”, Abrahem adds. “I’m doing my job and learning a language.” Wouters shares his enthusiasm: “I want to work with motivated people. Whatever their background or proficiency, it doesn’t matter. As long as they show they are willing to put in the hours.” As for Abrahem, it is safe to say he found a spot that gives him a sense of purpose; one where he can connect with people. “All my colleagues are friendly and welcoming. They smile a lot.”
What if, on top of living in Sevilla, a city with a high unemployment rate , you are also at risk of exclusion due to a disability? Such was the case for Javier Aranda Arques, a 33-year-old Sevillian. “It was hard to find a job – sometimes I lacked the right training,” says Javier. A few years back, however, his luck turned when he participated in a program created by Fundacion Randstad and Fundación Juan Ramón Guillen. Through this program, he received special training and found a job that he loves; working as a leisure and occupational counselor at a premium olive refinery.
Javier lives with his mother and brother in Seville. He can afford to support himself, but earning a salary is not the most important part of his work. “For me it is important to have a job. A job gives me dignity and enables me to support myself.”
About a decade and a half ago, Spain doubled its efforts to provide jobs for those who have trouble participating in the labor market. By adopting a new legislation called “The General Law on Rights of Persons with Disabilities and Their Social Inclusion,” the government ensured that two percent of all vacancies are filled by those with disabilities. Since then, Randstad Spain’s mission has been to create a more inclusive labor market across the country through its Randstad Fundacion. The foundation is a separate, non-profit entity within Randstad Spain working on the equality of job opportunities for disadvantaged people by improving their employability and preparing them to find a job.
In its 15 years of existence, Fundacion Randstad has brought together 1.500 companies, 550 NGO’s and 37.000 workers, improving their employability. Around 13.000 vulnerable job seekers found employment through the foundation.
“Fundacion Randstad trained me to become a leisure counselor through a program specially designed for people with an intellectual disadvantage,” says Javier. The program he is referring to is called “Coosur Solidarity,” a collaboration between Randstad Fundación and The Fundación Juan Ramon Guillen. The results of this program have been successful, in total, 450 candidates have benefited from the program. “What counts for us is the results,” says Ana Sanchez Lago, manager at Fundación Juan Ramon Guillen. “We hope that our training helps people find a job and become part of a company without getting preferential treatment.”
The Fundación’s parent company, Grupo Acesur, is one of the biggest oil exporters in the world. Acesur founded the Juan Ramón Guillén Fundación in 2011 in an effort to bring the rural – and especially olive oil sector – closer to the public through increased visibility, training and research. Through this cooperation, Javier eventually found a job at Hacienda Guzmán: an olive oil refinery in Seville and the headquarters of the Fundación Juan Ramon Guillen.
As counsellor, Javier is a guide for just about anyone who visits the Hacienda; from kids to teenagers and students. During the tours, he helps them with workshops and a variety of activities. Javier finds great joy in his new work.
“I feel great when a student is engaged in what we do and playfully learns during one of our workshops,” he says.
Sanchez Lago, who speaks highly of Javier, shares his enthusiasm. “His handicap has never limited him. If anything, it helped him to work hard and enjoy what he does.”
Javier wholeheartedly agrees: “I love my job! It gives me a strong sense of self-worth. By finding work, I really pushed my boundaries.”
These efforts are part of our ultimate goal. By 2030, Randstad wants to touch the work lives of 500 million people worldwide. It’s an ambitious goal for sure, but one that is necessary to underpin our biggest commitment: to maximize employment and contributes to economic growth worldwide. Ever since the 1970s, the simultaneous promotion of all interests has been one of Randstad’s core values. It is our belief that in order for a company to thrive, it has to look beyond its own desires and needs and contribute to society as a whole.
Workplace diversity and inclusion is a big part of that. It is also what makes the “Coosur Solidarity” program so important. By creating these programs, initiatives and collaborations, we are bolstering equal job opportunities for disadvantaged people, improving their employability and preparing them for the labor market. An inclusive workplace is not just good for business; it safeguards human and labor rights. In this way, the unemployment threat Javier’s peers face is minimized. But it also helps those working at Randstad. “Helping these people motivates us personally and professionally every day,” says Ana Ballesteros, director at Fundacion Randstad.
With an optimistic outlook, Javier says he has a long and promising road ahead.. “I plan to keep working until I retire. I want to fulfill my dreams, be an example to others and show them the sky's the limit when you persevere,” he adds.
While technology is rapidly evolving, the labor market struggles to catch-up. New and emerging technologies are leading to a surge in IT-related jobs, but the talent pool is failing to keep pace. Last year, tech unemployment hit an all-time low, with the IT-sector front and center. Recruiters are now struggling to find candidates for jobs that previously didn’t exist. Fresh, out-of-school talent are also finding themselves insufficiently prepared for the work these emerging jobs require.
Such was the challenge for 22-year-old Milan resident Mauro Flamigni, who recently found a job through a program at Randstad Italy called the ITS Technologies Talent Factory. “After graduating from secondary school, I did not know whether I was suited for the job market,” he recalls After completing this two-year program, Mauro started working at one of Italy’s most innovative IT companies.
“It is difficult to find the right staff in Italy,” says Pablo Pellegrini, a delivery manager at SB Italia who took on Mauro as an apprentice. “Young people with traditional training are often poorly prepared for their jobs.”
After graduating, Mauro felt he was insufficiently skilled to work and went to Randstad to explore his options. Laura Bozzi, Training Specialist at Randstad Italia was there to guide him through the process. “Mauro came to Randstad for a talk. He wanted to know more about the training courses we offer. He wanted to put into practice what he had studied,” she says.
In the past few years, the Italian government has defined the so-called mismatch priority occupations. These are sectors or roles burdened by a surplus or shortage in talent. While reasons may vary, an often-cited reason is that study programs or courses cannot keep up with the rapidly evolving labor market. The ones offered by more conventional institutions such as universities and colleges do not always align with the skills demanded by the industry.
Pablo Peligrini, delivery manager at SB Italia
To bridge the gap between employers and young talent, Randstad founded the ITS (short for Instituti Tecnici Superiori) Technologies Talent Factory in Milan. It is a two-year postgraduate course that trains young graduates in practical technological skills. “Randstad started this foundation in response to the criticism one frequently hears in Italy about mismatching,” Bozzi explains.
Approved by the Lombardy regional government, the course offers a more practical educational path, often complementing academic curriculum of local universities. So far the results have been very promising. Of the ITS Technologies Talent Factory’s first 20 graduates, no fewer than 85% found work in the IT sector.
“Randstad advised me to take the ITS training”, says Mauro, “which I took after graduation. The training enhanced my technical capacities and prepared me for entry into the job market.”
Eventually, Bozzi found him an internship at SB Italia. It was a perfect match. “Mauro immediately attracted our attention. He seemed much more mature than his peers”, says Pellegrini.
The efforts made by Randstad Italia serve our ultimate goal. By 2030, we want to touch the work lives of 500 million people worldwide. We launched the initiative in 2017 as a commitment to maximize future employment and contribute to societal economic growth. Our ultimate goal contextualizes what unites Randstad as a company.
Connecting with people is one of the drivers to achieve this ambitious goal. It means being present at all stages in a worker’s career. Much like what we’ve done with Mauro, Randstad is constantly looking to improve our candidate’s employability and provide them with the right training. In this brand-new world of technological proliferation, human interaction is still the cornerstone of Randstad’s way of working.
“This helps us because we get to know young people during their training”, says Pellegrini. “We pass our specialized knowledge on to them, and after their training we can employ those young people in our company.”
Mauro says the journey has been equally satisfying for him. After two years of studying, he went from serving as an intern to being a full-time employee. “After the apprenticeship I did during my ITS training, I started working at SB Italia. I still work there. I deal with the digitization of our processes.”
This is where the power of initiatives like the ITS Technologies Talent Factory lie. Through these programs, Randstad is helping to bridge the gap between employers and young talent. We are matching the mismatched – connecting employers with the right talent, and vice versa.
“Thanks to the training courses at the ITS Tech Talent Factory, all students who completed this track went on to find jobs.”, Bozzi adds, emphasizing her own personal growth as part of the process. “I personally oversee and support people during their trajectory at ITS. I see it as my mission to do so.”
As for Mauro, he’s happy where he is now – not just because he enjoys his work but because he found a sense of purpose. “It is important for me to have a job as it gives me independence, so I don’t have to rely on my family, he explains I hope I can grow professionally and become more independent and self-reliant”
More than about making money, he sees the skills he has gained as a path forward:. “It is important for somebody who wants to build a future, who wants to have his own life and a family, to have a job.”
our ultimate goal:
Our ultimate goal, which we launched in 2017, gives words to what we feel and what unites us as a company. It is what we believe in and where we want to go. It will not be an easy goal to achieve, but it motivates us to move forward. Our core values form a solid basis for this goal. We also take our sustainability basics seriously: corporate citizenship, safeguarding labor & human rights and taking environmental care.
touching work lives
candidates working every day
women in leadership positions
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touching work lives
To lead the way towards the goal, we have identified four drivers:
These drivers will also have an impact on the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. As a global HR services provider, Randstad specifically contributes to four goals: decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), reduced inequalities (SDG 10), gender equality (SDG 5), and quality education (SDG 4).
Contributing to economic growth is the most obvious way to create more jobs, which will allow us to touch the work lives of more people. By combining our human touch with technological expertise and data-driven insights, we will empower our clients and talent to grow, develop and improve, so they can add value to the economy, both now and in the future.
We will connect with people beyond search, selection, staffing and recruitment. Through our smart solutions and online platforms, we aim to be present at all stages in people's careers, consistently improving their employability and providing training opportunities where this is appropriate. In today's fast changing world, new technologies, tools, and solutions are redefining the way we interact with people. We combine this with the most important we have to offer: our human touch.
We will support the inclusion of people who experience a distance to the labor market, for instance because of gender, age, ethnicity or disability. We strongly promote equal opportunities and respect and safeguard human and labor rights in order to maximize future employment for as many people as possible.
As a global player in the labor market, Randstad has indepth knowledge of the world of work. Through our daily interaction with clients and talent, and our continuous dialogue with governments and labor organizations, we take the lead in shaping the world of work. This is, in fact, also our mission. By promoting equal opportunities and contributing to better functioning labor markets in this way, we create for ourselves the opportunity to touch the work lives of more people.