Three Insights on Migration: Ryan

three insights migration ryan

The Scalabrini team works with people who are migrants and refugees every day. With such deep expertise at hand, we take the opportunity to reflect on migration with them. This month we spoke to Ryan Carolissen, the Employment Support Coordinator at Scalabrini.   

The right to work  

Through his position as Employment Access Coordinator, Ryan has seen that obstacles faced by people who are migrants and refugees when seeking employment are complex and multifaceted in nature. “One of the main hurdles our clients face when seeking employment is documentation issues, with employers not understanding the right to work.”   

“Employers are hesitant to hire people who are not originally from South Africa as they are unsure of the legal structures around permits and expiry dates. In many cases, employers lack knowledge of the Asylum/Refugee process and of the many types of permits available, such as ZEP, Asylum, Refugee, Work permit, Study Visa, and Critical Skills Visa. This leads to uncertainty and hesitancy on the employer’s part.” Ryan says that “education is very important in this regard, both for clients and potential employers.”  

Misinformation and the role of the media   

“There is a lot of misinformation in the media about the role that people who are migrants and refugees play in South Africa.” Ryan explains that the negative narrative around people who are migrants and refugees perpetuates xenophobic attitudes.  “The result can be unfair employment discrimination, as some employers inevitably assume similar negative viewpoints and beliefs.”  


Ryan explains that many people are not able to find employment in the fields that they are qualified in. “Most people have to shift from the professions they did in their home country. The arduous process of registering with a professional body leaves non-South Africans people who are refugees and migrants with little choice. For example, it can be very difficult to get recognised with the South African nursing council if you were a nurse in your country of origin. Another one is Engineering. Security guards as well. There are so many industries. These are skilled professionals with years of experience. South Africa has a critical skills list. Many of our clients meet the criteria but we just can’t match the two.”  

Despite the challenges faced by people who are refugees and migrants when it comes to finding employment, Ryan has witnessed Employment Access clients still finding ways to thrive. “Our clients are resilient and many start their own businesses to support themselves. Those are going quite well. That is why we offer the business development course. It is really good to hear the hope they still have. The people that I meet and hearing their stories, where they come from, their ambitions and goals really inspires me and motivates me to keep assisting where I can”.