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A new life


Diversity and inclusion go beyond innovating and accepting each other’s differences; it’s also about creating opportunities to grow. A few years ago, we introduced our refugee program in Hoboken, where through a collaboration with the OCMW institution in Belgium, we hire refugees to work at our site. Amjed was eager to share his story then as he had just started his contract, and we decided to check back with him and his journey at Umicore. 

Did you miss the beginning of the story?

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Amjed enjoys working as an operator: “When I look at where I am today compared to four years ago, I see a lot of improvements. After working for one year through a CPAS (Public Centre for Social Welfare) route in 2018, I passed the recruitment test and started at Umicore as an operational employee. In the meantime, I successfully passed an additional recruitment test for the position of operator. I also obtained the forklift truck driver diploma. Umicore gives us a lot of support to develop ourselves.”

Lieven Maes, head of HR and communications at Hoboken, explained how the initiative started: "On the one hand, we wanted to commit ourselves socially as a company, and on the other hand, we also had a lot of open vacancies in various departments. We decided to deploy the refugees in one specific place, where it was possible to integrate quickly and where the language barrier was not so high to be able to do the work safely.”

Mohamed Fawzi, the supervisor of these recruits, added: "These colleagues had to leave their previous life behind due to difficult circumstances. They want to have a fresh start in Belgium, and thanks to this program, they have managed to build a normal life. They are the first generation that has successfully integrated and contributed to our society."

Though it wasn’t always an easy road, being part of the team gives Amjed energy: “In the beginning, I knew nothing and had to persevere. I got the chance to get a permanent job and be part of the team right away, and that was great. This gives me the energy to continue”. New colleagues are joining the same program in a few weeks, and he advises them to hang in there. “I came to Belgium in 2015, it was very difficult for me because I didn't speak Dutch, and I had to learn a lot. After I took Dutch lessons for a while, I started working right away. Studying in addition to working and your daily life creates a lot of pressure. I mainly looked at my experienced colleagues to understand what I had to do. When I think of Belgium, the first thing that comes to mind is that this is my new life, and I’m thankful for it”.

Creating a positive impact in the communities where we operate is part of our sustainable approach. Being able to help newcomers integrate and join our teams is very rewarding, especially if we can help them create a new life in a new country.