EMPLOYMENT barriers will be broken for refugees as a new county-wide programme is launched.

Benefiting from specialist employment support, it is hoped that the scheme will help refugees and English as a second language (ESOL) learners find work and feel more integrated into society.

Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s community grants programme has provided a funding boost of more than £75,000 to allow social enterprise Aspire, charity Asylum Welcome, EMBS Community College and the Workers' Educational Association to come together.

Aspire chief executive Paul Roberts said: "We are extremely excited about this new project because everyone has the right to be able to work.

"The problems refugees face is that employers do not understand what their qualifications and certificates mean.

"Another issue is because they have fled their homes they do not have references from previous employers and that is something we are really keen to address."

And Mr Roberts has another reason to champion the new programme.

He added: "I worked in Syria for about two and a half years until 2011.

"I saw what a talented, kind-hearted people they were and I really want to make sure we give them this right to be able to work in this country."

The support, which aims to get 40 refugees into work, will be tailored to each individual.

Some of the key project activities will include improving English language skills and providing specialist employability coaching, including CV workshops and access to work placements or volunteering opportunities.

Almas Farzi, known to his friends and colleagues as Navid, fled his home country Iran more than 20 years ago.

He has been working with Asylum Welcome for three years and said refugees need facilitating programmes because they already have the desire to work.

The 56-year-old said: "We want to work, we want to be integrated into the community.

"The best way to be able to do that is for us to be able to work."

A key to unlocking refugee's potential is improving their English so they will be able to communicate with employers.

Monica Moldovan from EMBS Community College in Barns Road, Cowley, said: "It is so important for people to be able to communicate and explain to employers their work history and their skills.

"This is a fundamental part of them getting into work."

Another crucial aspect of the project is developing links with local employers to encourage them to open up job opportunities to refugees.

Once in employment, everyone taking part in the project will also benefit from in-work support to guide their transition into the workplace.

Kate Smart, director of Asylum Welcome, added: "The benefit system is completely alien to refugees.

"They do not come here expecting to get money, they come here expecting and wanting to work.

"Hopefully this programme will help us get the work experience they need, the language skills they need to communicate with employers and engage with employers to show that this is a talented workforce with skills that would otherwise be going to waste."