Canada – Expanding refugee access to third-country solutions: International leaders launch the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility

Across the globe, millions of people are displaced and in need of safety and protection. Only about 1% of refugees have access to resettlement each year, leaving millions of people in limbo and a significant talent pool often untapped. Labour complementary pathways provide an additional way, beyond resettlement, for displaced people to find durable solutions in third countries through labour migration programs. In so doing, they recognize refugees’ skills, experience and talent, in addition to their need for protection.

April 6, 2022—Ottawa—Across the globe, millions of people are displaced and in need of safety and protection. Only about 1% of refugees have access to resettlement each year, leaving millions of people in limbo and a significant talent pool often untapped. Labour complementary pathways provide an additional way, beyond resettlement, for displaced people to find durable solutions in third countries through labour migration programs. In so doing, they recognize refugees’ skills, experience and talent, in addition to their need for protection.

To see these successes on a larger scale, we need to make labour immigration avenues accessible to refugees. Today, the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility was launched and introduced Canada as its inaugural chair. The Task Force will build momentum for labour complementary pathways around the world. Leaders from Canada, Australia, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, the International Chamber of Commerce, Fragomen, Talent Beyond Boundaries, and RefugePoint held the first meeting of the Task Force to discuss the transformative potential of refugee labour mobility initiatives.

By working together with like-minded partners and countries, Canada will continue to be a global leader in attracting international talent to fill skilled labour shortages and drive post-pandemic economic recovery. Labour complementary pathways are intended to work alongside existing humanitarian resettlement programs, with the goal of expanding the number of pathways available for skilled refugees to immigrate abroad.

This initiative builds on Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), a ground-breaking program that recognizes the skills and abilities of refugees by removing barriers and helping them and their families immigrate to Canada through existing economic programs.

The Task Force will engage with global stakeholders from governments, businesses, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society to increase the number of skilled refugees welcomed to Canada, while decreasing labour shortages where Canada needs it most.

The Task Force will organize activities throughout the year to identify opportunities to implement and increase labour pathway initiatives. In addition, it will work to better understand the policy and operational challenges associated with their implementation and to find practical solutions to overcome them. This will include immense collaboration to ensure pilot projects can develop into official programs. The success of this work will rely on participation from the many stakeholders who actively support the implementation of these pathways, and whose experience and lessons learned will be crucial to informing policy and program improvements.

The Task Force will also prepare a detailed report in 2024, which will document its work and successes and outline policy and operational considerations for the scaling and institutionalization of labour complementary pathways for refugees around the world.

Through this global collaboration, the Task Force will explore how these initiatives can support skilled refugees in need of protection, while also providing opportunities for them to make meaningful contributions to their new communities.

Understanding and facilitating the admission of skilled refugees through alternative and innovative pathways is not only a complement to our humanitarian commitments, it is a commitment to economic growth through supporting our communities and industries across the country that rely on immigration. Labour complementary pathways will increase the attraction and retention of newcomers in regions with acute economic, labour and demographic challenges. Together, the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility will further help bring the immeasurable contributions of immigrants to our communities and all sectors of the economy.

“Labour complementary pathways are win-win solutions: they provide refugees and their families with meaningful, additional pathways to protection, while supporting the growth of communities by meeting labour market needs. This initiative builds on Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot, which is already helping to increase refugee labour mobility. As Chair of the Task Force for the next 2 years, Canada will work closely with a wide range of partners, including refugees with lived experience, to lay the foundation for implementing innovative solutions worldwide.”

– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“Skilled refugees make a significant contribution to the communities, labour markets and economies of receiving countries. This has been demonstrated in particular by Australia’s Skilled Refugee Labour Agreement Pilot. Australia is proud to be a member of the Task Force and is committed to working with the international community to foster global dialogue on labour complementary pathways for refugees and displaced people.”

– The Honourable Alex Hawke, Australia’s Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs

“Far too often I meet refugees with enormous talent but limited opportunity. Labour complementary pathways are a way to change that. They provide the protection and safety refugees need, while also giving them the chance to make the most of their skills to improve not only their lives and those of their families, but also the countries and communities that welcome them.”

– Filippo Grandi, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

“At the International Organization for Migration (IOM), we recognize the potential of labour mobility pathways for leveraging the skills and talents of millions of displaced people—and at the same time providing safeguards for their protection. As an organization with decades-long experience in the field of migration governance, resettlement, labour migration and emergencies, IOM understands that crafting regular migration pathways that explicitly—and unusually—combine humanitarian and economic principles will be a challenging but hugely rewarding task. The Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility provides an excellent opportunity to identify collaborative solutions that put both the vulnerabilities and the strengths of migrants at the centre of all policy and program design.”

– Ugochi Daniels, Deputy Director General for Operations, International Organization for Migration 

“As the institutional representative of the global private sector, the International Chamber of Commerce enables businesses to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all, including displaced people whose livelihoods have been compromised. This initiative on labour mobility is a great example of how businesses worldwide can contribute to the delivery of durable solutions for the millions of displaced people across the globe.”

– John W. H. Denton AO, Secretary General, International Chamber of Commerce

“We are proud to be a member of the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility. We are currently helping refugees to enter Canada and other countries through routes that have already been created—benefiting both the refugees and employers needing skilled workers. I have no doubt that through the work of the Task Force, support for this wonderful initiative will grow as more countries and employers seek to play a role. It will make a positive difference to many people around the world, and Fragomen looks forward to working with fellow members of the Task Force to build on the important progress to date.”

– David Crawford, Managing Partner, Toronto Office, Fragomen

“Labour mobility and the idea of self-reliance for refugees are rooted in dignity. They flip the script on the perception of refugees from victims of war to people with strengths, skills and unique abilities to contribute to their communities. After interviewing for a job through the Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot, one candidate said to RefugePoint’s team, ‘this was the best day of my life as a refugee because I felt seen for who I am.’ With forced displacement at unprecedented levels⁠—more than 1% of humanity has been forced from home⁠—we must envision a different future, one in which communities and countries compete to bring in refugees. Labour mobility is a path to that future.”

– Sasha Chanoff, CEO and Founder, RefugePoint

“Talent Beyond Boundaries was founded 6 years ago in recognition of a core truth: refugees are people with skills, talents and aspirations. When embraced, displaced people can be assets to companies and communities around the world, enriching us all. Since our founding, we’ve assisted more than 500 refugees to achieve safety and security through skilled migration pathways. This includes around 280 candidates who have secured employment in Australia, Canada and the UK, plus their family members. But this is just the beginning. Over 40,000 displaced people from around the world are currently registered on our Talent Catalog. Refugees need solutions now more than ever. We urgently need to scale displaced talent mobility as a complementary pathway, enabling people to resume their careers and rebuild their lives with dignity and purpose.”

– Stephanie Cousins, CEO, Talent Beyond Boundaries 

The Global Compact on Refugees, adopted by the UN General Assembly in December 2018, includes the development of complementary pathways as a core objective to increase durable solution opportunities through the admission of refugees to third countries. 

To support this goal, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and a coalition of partners launched a Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways (2019–2021), which recommended establishing multi-stakeholder task forces specific to identified complementary pathways—labour, education and family reunification.  

Labour complementary pathways rely on close partnerships among governments, employers, international organizations and civil society groups, working together to identify and recruit talented refugees and to successfully settle them in their new jobs and homes.

The 8 founding members of the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility bring a diverse range of experience with refugee resettlement and labour complementary pathways, and will be actively recruiting others with experience and interests in these initiatives to participate in Task Force activities. 

Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot helps skilled refugees overseas who can fill specific labour market needs to immigrate to Canada through existing economic programs. The pilot involves strong partnerships with a range of stakeholders, including 8 Canadian provinces and territories, communities, employers and non-government partner organizations. 

The Australian government, working in collaboration with Talent Beyond Boundaries, is piloting a program aimed at providing skilled refugees and their families with a pathway to live and work in Australia. Under this pilot program, launched in July 2021, endorsed Australian businesses will be able to utilize a labour agreement to sponsor skilled refugees to work in their business.

Aidan Strickland

Press Secretary

Minister’s Office, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

La Roca FC Partners with Refugee Soccer

 La Roca FC is delighted to team up with Refugee Soccer to provide soccer training clinics, life and educational mentoring, and necessities such as food and clothing to help refugees adjust to life in the United States. Refugee Soccer, which has already created a notable track record of helping the refugee community in the US since 2016, will now have additional help. Both Refugee Soccer and La Roca FC believe that soccer is a universal language. Through the shared love of soccer, they aim to use this beautiful language of soccer to bring together people from different backgrounds, beliefs, and life experiences and build a stronger community comprised of individuals focused on kindness, respect, and goodness.

The primary goal of this new partnership is to promote mutual goodwill between the mainstream community and the large refugee community here in Utah. They will accomplish this by engaging La Roca FC coaches, players, families, and staff to support the refugee youth through various soccer-related activities organized by Refugee Soccer. La Roca FC has already created a strong and well-respected presence along the Wasatch Front with its wide outreach into all parts of the community, which will make serving refugees consistently and reliably easier.

“We can’t wait to officially get started with Refugee Soccer,” said Adolfo Ovalle, La Roca’s Founder and Technical Director. “I’ve been telling my staff that La Roca FC isn’t complete until we fully give back to the community and help those in need. Not only is it our goal to build great soccer players, but we want to create great human beings. Money or resources should never prohibit someone from playing the game we all love. We should all help – we are all in this together.”

As a timely and significant example of the ways in which this new partnership will work, Refugee Soccer is currently launching a unique and exciting project to help Afghan families airlifted from Afghanistan in conjunction with the US military exit from the country over the summer. There are currently thousands of Afghans housed in camp-like conditions at US Military Bases awaiting permanent placement in communities across the country. Founder & Executive Director, Adam Miles, explained: “The chance for our team to use soccer as a means to connect with and engage hundreds of Afghan youth in this traumatic time in their young lives is a such a privilege and, frankly, the entire reason I started Refugee Soccer in the first place. To be able to have La Roca FC involved in this project is absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait to watch the joy happen for both our new Afghan guests and those volunteers lucky enough to serve them, myself included.”

Ahmed Bakrim, La Roca SLC Director of Coaching, who immigrated to the United States in 2001 said, “It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to work with these kids who’ve been displaced. I know what it feels like to be in a country where you don’t speak the language, understand the culture and you don’t know what to expect from people’s behavior. It’s so hard to adjust and you constantly feel homesick. The only thing that made me personally feel comfortable was having those around me smile, be friendly and try to open a conversation, even though I didn’t understand. And in this case, the soccer game is going to break the barrier.”

Currently, La Roca FC is conducting a Christmas food drive for the refugees. Families and players are encouraged to drop off food before their indoor sessions at La Roca Park (South Weber), Zions Bank Real Academy (Herriman) and in Spanish Fork. Starting January 2022, regular soccer clinics and training for the refugee youth will take place at the Zions Bank Real Academy with a full staff of experienced La Roca FC coaches.

About La Roca FC

La Roca Futbol Club was established in 2005 to provide a quality competitive youth soccer program in Utah and has grown to become the most successful club in the state with more State Cup Championship titles than any other club in the state. La Roca FC trains serious youth soccer players who desire an opportunity to develop and showcase his/her skills to the fullest potential. To date, La Roca has produced 19 professional players both domestically and internationally and helped over 400 athletes obtain a collegiate scholarship. La Roca FC offers players a chance to play at the highest level of state competition and compete in various regional and national tournaments and leagues. La Roca is a 501(c)(3) corporation under the direction of its Board of Directors.

For more information visit, or contact Heidi Wheelwright at the La Roca FC office: 801-825-6040.

About Refugee Soccer

Refugee Soccer was formally established in 2016 as a dedicated program under the 501(c)(3) entity known as Bridges To America, Inc. based in Salt Lake City, Utah. Bridges To America was started in 2005 originally to reunite African families separated by war, famine, and poverty. Soccer became a key part of Bridges’ efforts around 2013 as founder and executive director, Adam Miles, started to involve his four children in the effort. His then 13-year-old daughter, Kylie, a goalkeeper played a fundamental role in raising funds to deliver 100 soccer balls to kids living in rural villages in Ghana, West Africa through the Bridges’ program known as Save-A-Thon For Africa. This effort was the genesis of Refugee Soccer.

Today, the mission of Refugee Soccer is to create moments of hope and happiness through soccer around the world. Refugee Soccer was formed to create and support solutions that combat the tremendous losses of productivity, progress, and hope that result from the massive displacement occurring in the world. Soccer is our secret weapon.

For more information visit, or contact Adam Miles at: 415-203-3763 or via email at

La Roca Futbol Club

Julia Howard




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