Skilled Migration for Refugees: A New Solution to the Global Displacement Crisis

Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award
Talent Beyond Boundaries

Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) has pioneered an innovative labor mobility solution to the global refugee crisis. We connect displaced talent with international employers and work with governments to ensure refugees can safely migrate for work, using their skills to rebuild their lives with dignity and purpose.

Last Updated: October 2023
Competition Participation
Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award
Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award
Right to free movement and asylum
  • Australia
  • Canada
  • Lebanon
  • United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
  • United States of America
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ethiopia
  • Germany
  • Turkey
  • Uganda
  • Families
  • Refugees and displaced people
  • Victims and oppressed people
  • 1. No poverty
  • 8. Decent work and economic growth
  • 10. Reduced inequalities

Executive Summary

Conflict and environmental pressures have driven a sharp increase in displacement over the past decade. Refugees come from all walks of life - they are doctors, engineers, skilled trade workers, software developers, aged and disability carers, and more. So many refugees have marketable skills, yet find themselves in countries where they cannot work locally or access basic rights, and are locked out of international employment opportunities.

Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB) is creating safe migration pathways that enable displaced people to move for work, resume their careers, and rebuild their lives. We work with governments to design skilled immigration systems that are accessible to displaced people, we listen to the needs of businesses and we leverage technology to connect refugees with employers in need of their skills.

Three of the world’s largest immigration countries have now established formal refugee labour mobility schemes with TBB’s support (Australia, Canada and the UK), and the US and several European governments are now setting up pilot programs. More than a thousand people have secured solutions to their displacement as a result of these programs already, and millions of refugees will benefit in the decades to come.

Over the next five years we aim to open skilled migration pathways for refugees into 27 target countries, enable more than 15,000 refugees to relocate through these pathways with safety and dignity, and establish the foundations for the sustainable growth of this solution beyond 2027.

This work is changing people’s lives, and changing tired old narratives. When displaced people are able to move internationally for work, economies benefit, global employers gain access to a previously untapped talent pool, and families find safety, security, and the agency to rebuild their lives in communities where their talents are needed.

Organization Details
Lead Organization

Talent Beyond Boundaries

Organization ID
Number of Full-time Employees
26 to 50
Annual Operating Budget
$1.0 to 5 Million

Charity, fund, non-governmental organization, religious institution, school, or other entity

Organizations may provide budget and employee data based on this proposal or the organization as a whole. For more information on this proposal or organization, please email us.


Scaling up programs

In 2022 TBB led successful refugee labour mobility programs in Australia, Canada, and the UK and directly matched 198 refugees with skilled jobs in a diverse range of industries in these countries, enabling them to migrate together with their family members and rebuild their careers. This represented a fifteen fold increase in recruitments since we started job matching in 2019. By the end of 2022 more than a thousand displaced people had secured solutions to their displacement as a result of these visa programs, and TBB had successfully advocated for increased skilled visa places for refugees in 2023. 

Demonstrating impact

Each of the refugees who have moved through these programs has made an impact - for themselves, for their families, and in their work. This year TBB alumni have treated thousands of patients with care in the UK, brought climate change mitigation expertise from Afghanistan to Australia, contributed much needed trade skills to Canada’s manufacturing industry, and won awards for technology and civil engineering innovations. More than 70% of the alumni in 2022 reported sending regular remittances to loved ones still in vulnerable situations abroad, creating significant flow on benefits.

Opening new skilled pathways

In 2022 the European Commission partnered with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and TBB to open pathways into Belgium, Ireland and Portugal, and the United States committed to starting a pilot in 2023 with the support of TBB. We also helped launch the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility, chaired by the Government of Canada, to mobilize more governments and businesses around the world to embrace refugee recruitment and opening migration pathways to displaced talent. 

Scaling technology and partnerships

More than 55,000 displaced people have now registered themselves on the Talent Catalog - the largest, fastest growing, and most geographically diverse database of refugee skill profiles in the world, developed by TBB as a shared resource for the growing ecosystem of partners working to facilitate international refugee labour mobility. Six partner organizations are now using the Talent Catalog technology to support refugees moving on labour pathways, and partner interest in using the platform is growing.

TBB launched a global partnership with IOM to strengthen labour mobility pathways for refugees and continued working closely with UNHCR. Building on our early work with Syrian refugees and other talent pools in the Middle East, TBB also launched new regional partnerships that led to our first job matches of refugees from Asia in 2022 and Latin America in January 2023 - helping us move to a global model and establish the framework for significantly expanded scale.

Find out more

2021 Swift Grant Awardee

Talent Beyond Boundaries was selected as a 2021 Swift Grant awardee in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University (Global Education Movement). The Swift Grants fund provides small grants to Bold Solutions Network members for collaborative projects.

These two Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award finalists will team up to create an internship and long-term employment program for 150 refugees in Lebanon. The program will also train employers on how to recruit and retain refugee employees.

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