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A new report, by Nour Moussa (University of Oxford) and Olivier Sterck (University of Oxford and University of Antwerp), assesses the achievements, impacts, and sustainability of the UK's Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot (DTMP).

There has been growing recognition of labour migration as a complementary solution for refugees and displaced people in recent years. Several pilots and programmes have emerged to match displaced people in the Global South with employers in the Global North in need of their skills and then facilitate their movement to these countries. One such example is the Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot (DTMP) announced in July 2021 by the Home Office, in partnership with the charity Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB).

TBB was established in 2016 out of the simple idea that displaced people do not need to be a burden for host societies. Instead, they are people with skills and talents who can positively contribute to companies and communities globally when barriers to their mobility are removed. Underpinning this solution is the ‘Talent Catalog’, a database and software platform built by TBB for displaced people to upload their profiles, qualifications, skills, and experiences. As of April 2024, TBB report that over 100,000 individuals have registered to this platform. TBB uses the Talent Catalog to match skilled people in displacement with public-service providers or private companies and then works with employers, governments, and civil society to facilitate displaced people’s migration.

The DTMP was launched in October 2021 and the first candidate arrived in the UK in December 2021. Initially, the DTMP aimed to move 50–100 displaced persons and their family members from Jordan and Lebanon to the UK as skilled migrants in non-healthcare roles by the end of October 2023. The pilot has since been extended until 1 November 2024. Utilising the Skilled Worker migration route, it will continue to provide a pathway for up to 200 skilled displaced people to come to the UK. Refugees and displaced people of any nationality or location are now eligible to benefit from the Displaced Talent Mobility Pilot.

This report assesses the achievements, impacts, and sustainability of the DTMP.  It draws on qualitative research, including interviews with individuals who moved through the pilot, as well as staff from employing organisations, TBB, the Home Office, and partner organisations.

The research highlights that the DTMP achieved most of its stated objectives (e.g. number of employers expressing interest and number of sectors recruiting displaced talent) but fell short of meeting the expected numbers of displaced people relocated. As of 1 September 2023, only 17 displaced individuals received job offers, of which only 12 had moved to the UK. The relatively low take-up of the pilot can largely be attributed to demand-side barriers and challenges in engaging employers, including the significant cost of recruiting internationally and the economic and political environment.

The report also highlights the strong positive impacts of the pilot on candidates and their employers. Candidates relocating to the UK experience transformative changes in their livelihoods, safety, and overall well-being. Employers similarly report high levels of satisfaction with the programme as new hires fill skill gaps and bring wider benefits to the office through their past experiences. The report unpacks the challenges and lessons learnt until September 2023 to make recommendations for how the programme should continue in the future.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this independent report are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the views of the UK Home Office, TBB, or other stakeholders involved in the DTMP.

Four people from Talent Beyond Boundaries at the airport with a 'Welcome to the UK' sign© TBB