Dropbox Business Blog UK — A new opportunity for refugees

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2. October 2017 — 3 min read

A new opportunity for refugees

“With the first two years of the educational programme, we have had already seen an increase in our production speed. We’re more effective, and without doubt, Dropbox has played a role.”Michael Maagaard, Head of HR and IT, midtVask.

The refugee crisis is one that continues to send shockwaves across the world. According to The UN Refugee Agency, by the end of 2015 a total of 65.3 million people were displaced, the first time in the organisation’s history that the 60 million threshold had been crossed.

But while war, persecution and disastrous natural events are driving people from their homes on an epidemic scale, there are also incredible organisations around the world, working to support those displaced. Organisations like Breaking Barriers which works to find meaningful employment for refugees to help them rebuild their lives. Or the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) which provides legal representation to refugees trying to resettle in an unfamiliar and often challenging environment.

We were lucky enough to speak with another amazing company which is training refugees and supporting them into full-time, meaningful employment. midtVask, Denmark’s largest hospital laundry service, offer sanctuary and a genuine fresh start for refugees. Look closely at their workforce of nearly 200, and you’ll find refugees and emmigrants from across 40 different nations - and it’s all down to a state-funded scheme they’re part of. The scheme involves supporting paid internships in different industries consisting of work, Danish language classes and on-the-job training, all leading to normal full-time employment.

Since starting the programme, the company has seen significant improvements in the work space, and an increase in production. Pernille Lundvang, CEO of midtVask, has been widely quoted as saying: “People say I have a good heart for employing refugees. And I say yes – but it’s business!”

So how do you connect, train and motivate people from across the world?  Technology. The company’s head of HR and IT, Michael Maagard brought in Dropbox Business to support the organisation’s admin services and employees too - something Michael says has been of huge support to the programme: “Imagine this: the majority of our workforce are uneducated, unskilled labour from 40 different nationalities. Many have never had the opportunity to use a computer before. So, when part of your job involves the need to use digital technologies, a product like Dropbox helps us solve that challenge; it’s so intuitive, it makes things so easy for everyone.”

A core part of midtVask’s process of supporting of refugees into meaningful employment is its impressive education programme. The company has converted a former lab-facility into a fully-functioning school, equipped with everything from computers to visiting lecturers. Michael told us Dropbox Business provides an important creative and collaborative foundation for the education programme.

He explains: “It’s perfect for the students. It’s saving hours every day as we’re not having to keep lengthy emails, or downloads files, and our students primarily use the Dropbox mobile application for viewing and sharing files. I know it’s made our admin team more effective too. With the first two years of the educational programme, we have had already seen an increase in our production speed. We’re more effective, and without doubt, Dropbox has played a role.”

Dropbox is honoured to be involved in such a unique project. To see midtVask’s programme in action, you can watch a recent video from the UN Refugee Agency here.

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