‘When they don’t use it they will lose it’: Professionals, deprofessionalization and reprofessionalization: the case of refugee teachers in Scotland

Geraldine Smyth, Henry Kum

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33 Citations (Scopus)


This article discusses issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Scotland
who were teachers in their country of origin as they seek to re-engage professionally. Refugees are frequently placed in low paid unskilled jobs, yet have often been well educated in their original country. This article draws on research conducted between 2006 and 2008, by the RITeS (Refugees Into Teaching in Scotland) project, funded by the West of Scotland Wider Access Forum (West Forum). In order to teach in Scotland, a candidate needs to register with the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS). This process has presented difficult challenges for refugee teachers, many of whom require intensive support to access the profession in Scotland. Additional structural barriers to employment are created by refusing to allow asylum seekers, who do not have leave to remain, to engage in paid employment. This article adopts a critical approach to the data gathered and explores the personal, cultural, institutional and structural barriers to employment faced by this particular group. The article draws conclusions and recommendations related to the reprofessionalization of a wider range of refugee professionals. As such it offers insights into the post arrival experiences of professional refugees.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)503-522
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
Issue number4
Early online date17 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • professionalism
  • habitus
  • employment integration
  • social capital

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