Skills for Life

10 July 2018

Portrait of intern

Cardiff University is participating in an exciting new project which provides employment and learning opportunities for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) women in Wales.

As part of an ongoing work placement, Arafa Ali, a Sudanese refugee, has learned what it takes to become a member of Professional Services Staff at Cardiff Business School through the Skills for Life project.

Arafa, who came to the UK with her family eight years ago, has turned her hand to customer service, administration and facility support over the last three months, shadowing the Deputy School Manager in a bid to increase her employment chances.

As well as helping with the day-to-day running of the school, organising meetings, working with spreadsheets and sending out emails, she also got the chance to work in others sections, including reception, the Open Day Team and the Undergraduate hub.

Arafa said: “I’ve always wanted to go to university and, one day, I still hope to study nursing. But having the opportunity to get some work experience in a place like Cardiff University has made me so happy.”

Julia McCarthy, Deputy School Manager at Cardiff Business School, added: “It’s been a pleasure mentoring Arafa on her Skills for Life work placement...”

Julia McCarthy

“Her desire to learn and absorb new skills and processes means that she’s completed all tasks with great enthusiasm and it’s been so rewarding watching her grow throughout the placement.”

Julia McCarthy, Deputy School Manager

Led by Oxfam Cymru and South Riverside Community Development Centre, Skills for Life supports BME women to gain the skills, experience and confidence they need to find decent work and build a life free from poverty.

Arafa, who has five girls aged nine, eight, five and twins aged 17 months, said: “When I collect my children from school, I say to my friends ‘I’m working at the University’ and feel so proud. I tell them how good it has been for developing different work skills, but for building my confidence too.

“Since coming to the UK we’ve had few opportunities to work which has been very hard for my family...”

“I’m a mother and looking after and caring for my children is really important to me. But these new experiences have excited me and the others on Skills for Life. I wish something like this was also available for my husband because it has helped me think about what else I can be, not just a mother.”

Arafa Ali

Arafa’s work placement is one example of a series of civic mission initiatives developed across the University to support refugees and asylum seekers to build a new life in Wales.

Professor Martin Kitchener, Dean of Cardiff Business School, said: “Arafa’s excellent work placement highlights the University’s commitment to creating opportunities for the communities of Wales and the world...”

Martin Kitchener

“And we have a track-record of doing just that at Cardiff Business School. Whether helping refugees and asylum seekers build career prospects alongside Enactus, or addressing global issues like women’s economic empowerment through our Responsible Innovation Network, public value is at the heart of our activity.”

Professor Martin Kitchener, Dean and Head of School

Kirsty Davies-Warner, Head of Oxfam Cymru, explains how the Skills for Life work placements fits with the organisation’s wider aims in developing decent work. She said: “In Wales, women are more likely to live in poverty than men. We also know that women face different and additional barriers when it comes to finding decent work, which is why we are working with government and a range of partners to help shape Wales’ economy and wider society to ensure that women can access the same opportunities as men...”

“The Skills for Life project has demonstrated that with tailored support, women such as Arafa can be empowered to grow in confidence and develop skills that can help them flourish in the workplace and in the wider community. It is time for all women to feel they have choices and power over their lives, and be able to move into decent work and out of poverty.”

Kirsty Davies-Warner, Head of Oxfam Cymru

The Skills for Life project supports the Communities for Work Programme and is funded by the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund.

Find out more about how we are embedding our public value strategy across our research, teaching and governance.