Essity, one of Northumberland’s biggest employers, has teamed up with RefuAid, a charitable organisation that works to find employment opportunities for people who have claimed asylum in the UK.

Its mill in Prudhoe, which manufactures commercial and household toilet rolls and other tissue products, is seeking to give migrants with manufacturing and engineering skills the opportunity to return to their previous career and access to meaningful employment.

As part of RefuAid’s Engineering Employment Programme, Essity hosted an open day for a group of 12 qualified engineers who travelled to the North East from across the UK, to meet staff, take a tour of the business and find out more about the company and jobs available.

Essity HR manager Clare Stewart explains: “I am delighted we have partnered with RefuAid on this pilot recruitment scheme. Essity is an international company that is committed to workforce inclusivity and diversity. By working with RefuAid we hope to gain access to a pipeline of talented people who will be an asset to the business.

“It was a pleasure to welcome everyone on site and I have been inspired by their personal stories and commitment to return to the engineering profession. If our pilot programme at Prudhoe is successful, we hope to roll the scheme out to our other UK manufacturing sites.”

With demand for its products continuing to grow, Essity’s collaboration with RefuAid coincides with mill’s recruitment drive to fill 50 vacancies for engineers, apprentices, graduates and operators.

Finan Trethewey, RefuAid engineering recruitment consultant, worked with Essity to coordinate the open day for candidates. He said: “When arriving in a new country, people who have had to leave their home face immense challenges in accessing education and employment. We want to work with employers across the country to provide sustainable solutions to forced migration by supporting people in regaining their independence.

“Collaborating with a major manufacturer like Essity is crucial in helping us to get people on pathways back into work and most importantly, into roles that are commensurate with their skills, qualifications and experience. We hope this will be the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership.”

RefuAid is currently helping more than three hundred engineers from overseas to access education, training and employment. Ages range from early 20s to 50+.

Among the group to visit Essity was Abdul, 37 from Egypt, who worked as an electrical engineer in Saudi Arabia before coming to the UK two years ago. He said: “I came to England with an engineering background and lots of experience. Due to barriers in the system I had to re-qualify to be eligible to find a job. I’m keen to explore the career opportunities at Essity and hope to get back into engineering and build a new future for myself.”