After 8 years of VluchtelingenWerk Netherlands Dorine Manson started on October 1st as managing director at the “Goede Doelen Loterijen” in the Netherlands. Today Dorine looks back on her time at VluchtelingenWerk and the Refugee Talent Hub.
Prior to joining VluchtelingenWerk, Dorine had work experience in both the private and public sector: previously she worked as Director of Economic Affairs at the Municipality of Amsterdam and as an advisor at PwC. Both of those experiences have come in handy for her work at VluchtelingenWerk and the Refugee Talent Hub.
“Attention is good, but too much attention is not”
Back in 2010 when Dorine had just began, VluchtelingenWerk was quite internally oriented. Dorine helped in shifting the internal focus of VluchtelingenWerk into an external focus. In the first years of her work, not many refugees came to the Netherlands, VluchtelingenWerk had to cut back on its finances.
However, a drastic change happened in 2015 and 2016. In a relatively short period of time, many refugees came to our country. The workload increased, the number of employees and volunteers increased rapidly. Where once VluchtelingenWerk had to fight for attention, the organisation suddenly became the center of attention. “A busy and inspiring period”, says Dorine. But: “Attention to an important subject like refugees is of course good. The subject was on the map in politics, society and business. Nevertheless, too much attention is also not good, because the amount of media attention made people think that the Netherlands was not prepared to help all refugees. It was also in this period that Accenture had invited some of its major clients to a discussion about what the talents these refugees have can mean for the business community in the Netherlands: that was the start of what we now know as the Refugee Talent Hub. Dorine was also present on behalf of VluchtelingenWerk to provide input from the perspective of the refugees.
“Focus on opportunities”
The idea of Accenture in a nutshell: there is a shortage on the labour market and there is an unused labour potential from refugees. There is a gap between the two. Employers have a role to play in closing this gap. Accenture wanted to take the lead in this and had found AkzoNobel and Arcadis, among others, willing to work together on this.
Dorine was pleased with Accenture’s initiative: “Especially because they viewed it from the perspective of opportunities and talents, and not from the perspective of obstacles. Refugees often have the feeling that their capabilities are being overlooked; however, this initiative was based on the knowledge and expertise of the refugee talents. She did not have to think long about it when she was asked to sit on the board of the Refugee Talent Hub on behalf of VluchtelingenWerk.
Custom and human work
The original idea regarding Refugee Talent Hub was to create a platform for refugees to register and for companies to post their vacancies, after which a digital match would be created. In the first year, a lot of time and energy was invested in an automated matching, but in the end, this turned out not to be a feasible option. A match between a company and a refugee is tailor-made and human work; you can’t do that digitally. Dorine: “In addition, the ambition was too great. With a special target group such as refugee talents, you cannot immediately make waves of matches. Every possible match requires personal attention. You have to look a little deeper than just what those people have done in their country of origin; you also have to ask yourself what they want and can do here in their new atmosphere. So, you can’t just look at their CV and experience, but also at the person and his or her competences, wishes and dreams.
“I believe in those small steps”.
The Refugee Talent Hub now functions as a platform where companies and refugee talents can meet each other, via Meet & Greets, work experience programs and so on. The Refugee Talent Hub has switched from digital matching to facilitating meetings. With Dorine’s great agreement: “I believe very much in starting small, being successful and then showing it. Because that inspires other employers. Show companies that among the group of refugees there are people with great talents who can work and reach the level a company is looking for. It is important that companies see the added value of this group as potential employees. The Refugee Talent Hub plays an important role in this in addition to (and in close cooperation with) organizations such as VluchtelingenWerk and the UAF Foundation, particularly because the Refugee Talent Hub works from the labour market: the demand side. That really is a different way of working than most organisations in this field.
We thank Dorine for her commitment, enthusiasm, knowledge and skills and wish her every success in her new position. Dorine, thanks!