The Scalabrini team works with migrants and refugees everyday. With such deep expertise at hand, we take the opportunity to reflect on migration with them. This month we speak to Hylton, the Employment Access Programme Manager, whose passion for the work that he does is inspired by the people he is surrounded by at Scalabrini.
- Changing perceptions of migrants in the workforce
“We need to stop looking at migration as only a negative thing. Yes, our unemployment rate is high, but it is not the fault of the migrants.” Within his sphere of work, Hylton wants to expand advocacy work around migration and development. He aims to build awareness in the work sphere as well as protect clients from being taken advantage of. He acknowledges that asylum seekers have the most difficult time when it comes to finding employment as many employers don’t understand the asylum seeker process. Preconceived ideas and thought patterns make the already intimidating world of employment that much more difficult to access. “Trying to change… with other partner organisations, the government and employer mindsets, keeps me passionate. I want to look more outwards. We need to effect some change on the landscape out there.”
- Working with others encourages reflections on our own privilege
Meeting people and hearing their stories of resilience has helped change Hylton’s mindset. “There’s not a lot of feelings of entitlement (among clients), which keeps me quite humble and makes me think about my own life and the privileges that I have.” Working at Scalabrini has enabled Hylton, not to change his perceptions on migration, but to improve and broaden them. “It makes me even more aware of the privilege and benefits that I have as a South African citizen. It just makes me appreciate what I do have a lot more… I can live in a relatively safe environment where our rights are upheld.”
- Everyone deserves the chance to create a livelihood
“I feel that everybody deserves the chance to provide for their family and to create a livelihood.” Hiring non-South African employees brings with it an increase in cultural diversity and new insights that South Africans can learn from. Hylton wants employers to recognise this potential. “Learn from the people. I learn from them everyday. I think the government feeds into the negative ideas and paint the migrants as the bad guys. So that kind of mindset needs to be shifted. You can’t solve everything immediately, you do need to think long term and at the same time try to solve the micro stuff too. What we are doing here is amazing, and I am proud to be a part of it”