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Commentary: "I visited a Syrian refugee camp, & here’s what business leaders should know"

...While government leaders work towards a political solution, business leaders have a valuable role to play not only through charitable activities, but through real investments. Last September, I visited the Za’atari refugee camp in the north of Jordan with Save the Children, where 80,000 Syrians live, work and learn. Listening to young people, their parents and teachers talk about their experiences at the camp made a huge impression on me...The Syrians I met were focused on gaining the knowledge and skills to help them find a future job... build their own businesses and drive the growth of their country once the fighting has ended. It’s in everyone’s interests for business to invest in these people as much as they’re investing in themselves...All of this is happening at a time when 40% of employers worldwide can’t fill vacancies because they lack properly trained workers. As leaders, we have a moral and a business responsibility to move young people into that workforce pipeline, regardless of their background. Companies opening these opportunities are seeing benefits for their business and those striving for a better life. Microsoft and Pearson are working with Syrian refugee students in Jordan and Lebanon to administer MS Office exams so students can gain practical skills. Chobani has a program to hire refugees resettled in the US and LinkedIn is leveraging its platform in Sweden in a pilot program to match refugees with jobs there. These partnerships are important because they provide sustained support after the initial humanitarian emergency. But none of them can be successful until we address the need to educate Syria’s young people...The world’s largest companies have a responsibility. Businesses have the reach, expertise and resources to make a real difference for people affected by conflict...

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