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IKEA co-workers Yaser Alwili, Lena van Heuven, Elin Johansson and Mohammad Al Heswani are very happy with the refugee inclusion programme.

Creating a better everyday life for refugees

Guided by our values, we believe that IKEA Group can play an important role in providing opportunities to people from all backgrounds — including refugees.

We have been active in supporting refugees through a variety of local community efforts, such as the donation of products, education projects and co-worker volunteering.

Today eight IKEA Group markets (Austria, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK) have started programmes that help refugees gain work experience, develop new skills and integrate into their new communities. And other markets run a variety of programmes in local communities to support migrants, refugees and other vulnerable groups.

We do all this because it is part of our vision, to create a better everyday life for the many people.

Opening doors to employment

Over 90 stores in eight IKEA Group markets have started refugee inclusion programmes that support refugees to gain work experience, develop language skills and integrate into their new communities. Find out more by reading some of their stories:

Eight IKEA markets have started programmes that help refugees gain work experience, develop new skills and integrate into their new communities.


“Entering IKEA felt like entering a home. I wake up with a smile on my face because I know I’m going somewhere fun where I can help people find what they are looking for. IKEA has allowed me to face the past but also to build my future.”

Alagie Darboe, Self-service co-worker, IKEA Padua store

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  • Study your way and be brilliant

  • A film showing how easy it is to cook even if the sink is full by using chopping boards and colanders that fits on top of the dishes in the bowl.

    We all have different needs when we’re to concentrate on something new and tricky, whether it’s learning our ABCs or studying for an exam. By allowing for our differences we increase the chances of great results and have more fun in the process.

  • Move for better grades

    Do you need to move, even just a little, to remain focused when you concentrate on something new and tricky? You’re not alone. Try a swivel chair next time.

  • This pink and ergonomic swivel chair can be adjusted to suit your child perfectly.
Meet co-worker Miriam Egio and find out about her view on the IKEA refugee programme.


“We hope that this programme will continue to support people to grow, advance and create opportunities for a better future.”

Miriam Egio, HR Manager, IKEA Ensanche de Vallecas store

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  • Spain

    Since 2015, Spain has received thousands of applications for asylum from refugees. In response, IKEA Retail Spain developed the Employability Programme – part of a wider partnership with the NGOs, ACCEM, ACNUR, CEAR and the Spanish Ministry of Employment and Social Security.

    At IKEA Ensanche de Vallecas and IKEA Murcia stores, refugees are offered a five-week training programme, designed to give them the tools and resources they need to improve their employability skills and access work in the retail sector. Each week is spent learning about work in a different department, combined with training sessions on writing a CV and preparing for interviews.

    At the end of the programme, the vast majority of participants had a job interview and over half of them found a job – including six who became IKEA co-workers.

    Through first-hand conversations and stories, co-workers at the two stores learned about the life of a refugee and realised the importance of their own role in supporting participants with employability skills. IKEA Retail Spain is rolling the programme out to as many stores as possible and exploring ways to extend the opportunity to other vulnerable groups.

Meet refugee and co-worker Mohamed Abdullahi and find out about his view on working at IKEA.


“I started the internship programme in September 2016. For me it was a good opportunity to integrate into an international company. I’m now employed long term and am financially independent.”

Mohamed Abdullahi, Logistics co-worker, IKEA Aubonne store

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  • Switzerland

    IKEA Retail Switzerland started its refugee inclusion programme in June 2016, offering six-month internships twice a year to refugees across all of its nine stores. Working closely with local authorities, four interns per year are chosen to work at each store.

    “We are very happy that every six months, because of this programme, we had the opportunity to hire very motivated co-workers. This also increased our diversity in the store and gave refugees the possibility to continue their integration in our country in a constructive and positive way”, says Bruna Toubia, multi-cultural trainer.

    Depending on prior work experience and language skills, some interns might work in logistics, sales, recovery, the food department or other functions. Interns also receive intercultural training. After the internship, participants are provided with a reference and encouraged to apply for open positions at IKEA.

    Around 110 local refugees will benefit from the programme until 2019. IKEA Retail Switzerland has also published the Refugee Inclusion Toolkit, sharing their experience with other companies.

Meet co-worker Dan Sandmoen and find out about his view on the IKEA refugee programme.


“I’m very proud to be part of a project that gives refugees and immigrants their important first step of gaining work experience and learning Norwegian. The participants’ level of engagement and desire to learn has been inspiring.”

Dan Sandmoen, Team Leader, IKEA Furuset store

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  • Norway

    The Norwegian government challenged the sector of social security to come up with ideas and projects to increase the rate of inclusion of newly arrived refugees and immigrants into the workforce and society of Norway. As an answer to the challenge, the district of Alna in Oslo where IKEA Furuset is located, thought of involving the Adult Language Learning Centre and IKEA Furuset store.

    To meet the needs of newly arrived refugees and migrants to gain work experience in Norway, the IKEA Furuset store in collaboration with the Adult Language Learning Centre, came up with the idea of trying out a Hurtigsporet (“Fast Track”) project. The idea is to allow the participants to learn Norwegian over the period of eight months, while they receive work training at IKEA Furuset store. The goal for IKEA is to recruit new co-workers from the project, and the school’s goal is to get the participants to speak enough Norwegian to get by.

    “This project has changed my life 100%. I could not imagine at all that I would get a job within the first year of arriving in Norway, but I now have a part-time job and I make my own money now. At the same time, I have colleagues and friends at work that I can talk to and keep practicing my Norwegian.” - Asma from Afghanistan

    So far, 11 out of 14 participants have completed the project of training in different departments, and with the help of mentors and staff, they learn IKEA values and basically everything about working at IKEA. Five new co-workers have been recruited to the IKEA Furuset store and half the participants passed their Norwegian language tests. The Hurtigsporet project will now be expanded to include IKEA Slependen store, with the hope to make an even bigger impact.

Meet co-worker Hiliary Jenkins and find out about her view on the IKEA refugee programmes.


“Since starting the programme, I’ve witnessed a renewed energy among our co-workers for the IKEA values and appreciation of IKEA as a great place to work – not to mention some fabulous new co-workers joining us. It’s been a win-win experience!”

Hiliary Jenkins, People & Communities Leader, IKEA Retail UK & IE

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  • UK

    Imagine being forced to move to a different country, having no idea how to get a job or anyone to guide you. Also, the UK has a lengthy asylum process, during which you can’t work. This creates a gap in employment, while emotionally it can be very isolating. That’s where our partnership with the charity Breaking Barriers steps in as a support network.

    Together with Breaking Barriers, IKEA Retail UK has developed a customer service course that is available to refugees for free. The course helps them learn the skills they need to enter the retail job market.

    It also includes English language support and a bespoke assessment centre with IKEA so that participants can experience a retail job interview and learn more about IKEA as a values-based company. After this assessment centre, some participants are invited back for formal interviews. To date, we have hosted assessment centres in Tottenham, Croydon and Wembley.

    “So far, 110 refugees have been supported by the course and 20 have found employment in an IKEA store. And we’re expanding into more stores this year and in 2019 we hope to see every store in the UK on board.”

    Hiliary Jenkins, People & Communities Leader, IKEA Retail UK & IE

Refugees and their new communities thriving together

Patience, 21, is an aspiring journalist doing vocational training through the International Rescue Committee with support from the IKEA Foundation.

Patience, 21, is an aspiring journalist doing vocational training through the International Rescue Committee with support from the IKEA Foundation

When people are forced to leave their homes, they have to leave most things behind. But no matter what they leave behind, they all bring three things with them wherever they go: skills, talents, aspirations.

The IKEA Foundation* is supporting the International Rescue Committee (IRC) with a €5 million grant to help improve the lives of both refugees and young Kenyans living in Nairobi’s informal settlements.

The partnership promotes refugees’ self-reliance and financial independence through a flexible training and employment programme, tailored to each individual’s needs. By offering business-skills training, start-up grants, apprenticeships, and connections to local employers, the IRC is helping thousands of vulnerable people improve their chances for a better future.

Refugees and their new communities can thrive together when refugees are able to develop their skills, embrace their talents and fulfil their aspirations. Because when refugees are able to work, they create businesses and employ others. They have more money to spend in the local economy and need fewer benefits. They experience less frustration and feel more connected to their new community.

*The philanthropic arm of IKEA Group

Read more about the IKEA Foundation and its partnerships at IKEAfoundation.org