Supporting a talented refugee back into the workforce

People Stories

Supporting a talented refugee back into the workforce

Moutaz' story

17 May 2021


At CityFibre, Inclusion and building a diverse workforce is important to us. As we are growing rapidly we recognise that we are in a great position to build a diverse workforce and in this case Keziah Burke, Build Assurance Manager, was able to support a talented refugee back into the workforce:

We were recruiting for a CDM Specialist when we first discovered Transitions London. The CDM role was quite specific focusing around the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. When advertising we were looking for an individual that didn’t require any training and were ready to ‘run’ with the position. This is due to the fast-paced nature of our business and the need for more resource quickly.

When Sheila at Transitions London suggested she may have an individual capable of the role on a lower level, we thought it would be a good opportunity to meet him regardless of our initial expectation for the role. After having an Interview with Moutaz Alrayes we decided to offer him the role of Graduate CDM Associate. We saw Moutaz’s previous experience offered a great deal of transferable skillset into the telecoms industry as he already had a vast knowledge from working on some major construction projects in previous roles.

To support the placement and upskill Moutaz we put together a training matrix covering any soft skills and technical training he would require to support his role. This included the funding of Moutaz NEBOSH Qualification in Construction.

A challenge we faced during the placement was around communication with some of our cities that had stronger accents, we were able to pair Moutaz with an individual in the compliance team who works in that region. This allowed Moutaz to ask questions in a team chat whilst in meetings and have regular catch ups afterwards to support his understanding. It also helped speed up his knowledge on abbreviations used at CityFibre. Although we have an internal glossary, sometimes it’s easier to learn whilst using them on a regular basis.

During the placement we had a monthly session with Sheila (Transitions lead) to monitor how the placement was going, and see if there was any additional support needed.

At the end of the 6 month placement Moutaz was excelling in the role and became a truly valuable member of the team, he picked up the role incredibly quickly and his work ethic shines through daily. Based on our experience we offered Moutaz a permanent position and salary increase at CityFibre, I look forward to continue working with him as seeing him excel and progress in his role.

By Keziah Burke.

Here's what Moutaz had to say:

Imagine being forced to leave your home country, to drop all your life, plans, dreams and start again somewhere entirely new. This is the reality for the thousands of refugees who have arrived in the UK over the last few years, whom I am one of them, I left behind me long life full of memories, dreams, successes, and experiments and had to start new life from scratch in a new country which is different from my own in all aspects such as language, habits, and culture. And what made it even more difficult was the presence of a wife and three children who need to go to school.

After a year of moving from house to house and from city to another, eventually I have got a residence permit in the UK and now I can start another journey that is no less difficult to find a job to support my family. Despite my long 14 years’ experience in civil engineering and huge and unique projects I worked in, I was not preferable to employers in the UK as I have neither previous UK experience nor a British degree, in addition to my age which was close to forty years.

After many failed attempts to get a job, but that did not stop me, so I decided to start studying for the master’s degree in engineering management to enhance my chances of getting a job, and despite the financial and psychological exhaustion, I succeeded in getting the master’s degree in Oct 2020.

As said earlier, missing a previous UK experience make it so difficult to get a job, so it was the best solution is to get some help from organisation that help professional refugees, and which has a better experience in job field.

Finally, after 2 years and 8 months of attempts, I got a six-month placement opportunity in Cityfibre, and later a permanent position . I owe a lot to Cityfibre because although I did not comply with conditions of the proposed job, they believed in me and gave me the opportunity that I had long waited for, I owe Cityfibre because they believed in diversity and inclusion and where I have never felt I am different because I am from another race, language, colour, or culture.