In March 2016, the Malaysian Cabinet agreed to embark on a work pilot project to allow 300 UNHCR registered ethnic Rohingya refugees to legally work in the plantation and manufacturing sectors. Phase 1 of the project was directed to the plantation sector, commenced in December 2016.
However by June 2017 all the Rohingya refugee participants had left the participating plantation company and it was concluded that the plantation sector was not a good fit for the Rohingya refugees. Phase 2 of the work pilot project involved the manufacturing sector and by September 2017 a batch of refugee workers commenced work with the first participating manufacturing company. It has since seen some success with the participating company employing a second batch of refugee workers.
The success of the work pilot program prompted UNHCR to conduct a Focus Group DIscussion with the refugee workers involved in the work pilot. The discussions were fruitful as it has provided insights on how to better prepare the Rohingya refugees for legal work, henceforth, increase retention rate for the participating workers. This led to the conception of the Work Preparedness Workshop and on July 2018 JREC was identified as a UNHCR partner to conduct the workshops.
The implementation of the workshop was considered a success with a total of 62 workshop participants which exceeded the initial target number of participants by 24%. Some of the topics that were addressed in the workshops include:
In order to improve the content and delivery of the workshops, feedback from the participants was taken upon completion of each topic during the workshop to ensure true and fair feedback as well as information retention.
The success of the work preparedness workshop has prompted an expansion of the project planned in 2019. The expansion is to include more relevant topics such as peaceful coexistence in Malaysia as well as youth and women empowerment within the refugee community.