Major British companies M&S and Asos offer jobs to Ukrainian refugees

Marks & Spencer, Asos and Robert Walter among top brands opening doors to those fleeing war

Marks & Spencer and more than 40 other major brands will offer jobs to Ukrainian refugees. Reuters
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Major British businesses including retailers Marks & Spencer and Asos are offering jobs to Ukrainian refugees as they arrive in the UK.

A coalition of more than 45 large businesses have pressed the government to make the route into the UK easier for refugees fleeing the war.

The group, which also includes high street cosmetics brand Lush and recruitment firm Robert Walters, has told the government it has up to 10,000 jobs available.

Entrepreneur Emma Sinclair, the chief executive of Enterprise Alumni, is leading the drive to help Ukrainian refugees find work.

“The companies involved, especially the recruitment firms, have got thousands of jobs to fill every week,” Ms Sinclair said.

While the move will help those entering the UK support themselves during their time away from their home country, it could also boost Britain’s labour market with the number of unfilled vacancies hitting a record high of 1.298 million in the three months through January.

“We [businesses] want people, we need people and we want to help. We want to see movement on rising numbers of refugees,” Ms Sinclair said.

Marks & Spencer said it was “absolutely committed” to the humanitarian cause in Ukraine. Online fashion retailer Asos said it was looking to offer jobs in the “double digits”, particularly in tech engineering roles — a skill of strength in Ukraine.

Lush said it was also “happy to consider refugees for any role, even those we would usually advertise for internal candidates only”.

Ms Sinclair was meeting Richard Harrington, the UK’s new Minister for Refugees, on Monday to flesh out the scheme further, after the government was criticised for its slow response to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Tesco has made more than 1,400 jobs available for Ukrainian refugees in its Central European business and entrepreneurs are putting out Twitter alerts offering positions for those entering the UK.

More than 2.5 million people — mainly women, children and the elderly — have now fled Ukraine, with men required to stay behind to fight the war.

British hotels and restaurants are also stepping up to support those in need, with Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UK Hospitality, saying she has been “inundated with offers of help and support” as hotels offer spare rooms and restaurants offer food parcels.

More than 3,000 visas have so far been issued to Ukrainians seeking help in the UK, according to Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove. He says “tens of thousands” more will be provided.

Ukraine refugees arrive in Poland - in pictures

As well as businesses helping out, people keen to offer refugees shelter in the UK can now register their interest in sponsoring Ukrainians through the Government's new humanitarian scheme.

Mr Gove has said the process of matching Britons with people fleeing the conflict will take place from Friday, while he expects the first refugees to use the new route will make their way to the UK by the end of the week.

He said he would personally take in a Ukrainian refugee and Academy Award-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch said from the Baftas red carpet on Sunday that he hoped to take part in the scheme.

But there has been criticism too, with the Refugee Council noting that unlike the UK, all EU countries had waived visa requirements for Ukrainians in the short term.

Updated: March 15, 2022, 11:44 AM