Barriers to employment

Refugees are highly motivated to work and bring a wide range of skills and qualifications, and yet they face many barriers when trying to join the Australian workforce including difficulties with their qualifications being recognised, a lack of local networks and English language confidence.

IKEA Pilot Program

In partnership with refugee inclusion specialists Community Corporate, IKEA has implemented a three-year pilot program, to date providing paid work placements to 160 refugees and asylum seekers from 23 different cultural backgrounds, speaking 40 different languages.

More than 200 dedicated buddies and leaders have helped bring this initiative to life across the country, which is a powerful reflection of the IKEA culture and values and our commitment to building a diverse and inclusive workplace.

The pilot program has proved the mutual benefits of supporting refugees to enter the Australian workforce are significant, including:

  • Pride in an inclusive culture
  • Greater cross-cultural competence and new mentorship skills for IKEA co-workers
  • Shared languages and deeper cultural connections that are creating a better customer experience
  • Access to a new talent pool of adaptable, resilient and loyal co-workers


Though not a focus of the program, 80% of pilot program participants secured ongoing employment with IKEA. This result, along with the wider mutual benefits to refugees, co-workers, customers and the broader business, supported the rationale to make Refugee Workforce Inclusion a permanent pillar of recruitment for IKEA.

Future evolution

Co-designed with Community Corporate, IKEA Australia will soon evolve the program to a permanent pillar of recruitment, providing stable, ongoing employment opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum to secure meaningful career pathways with IKEA.

IKEA believes employers have an important role to play in actively welcoming refugees and asylum seekers. By seeing their talent and potential, strong mutual benefits can be realised for the individual, businesses, and communities.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the program can reach out to Harriet Pope, IKEA Refugee Workforce Inclusion Leader



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