The scholarship from Beca group will help finance Eyob's Bachelor of Building Science study at Victoria University in Wellington, as well as connecting him with industry professionals and providing the opportunity for work experience as his study progresses.

Though he appears shy, as Eyob speaks about his future studies his passion and enthusiasm for this field of study shines through.

“For the summer I will work, then I will start at Victoria in February,” Eyob says with a smile. “I’m grateful to Beca. It’s a good opportunity for me and for my future.”

Eyob, recipient of Beca scholarship.

Eyob was presented with the scholarship by New Zealand Red Cross Pathways to Employment manager Judi McCallum, alongside Beca representative Marise Creagh.

“This is gold for a young man launching into a career with not a lot of connections and support in his new country,” says Judi.

Eyob and his sister Mahlet reunited with their mother in New Zealand in January 2018 after 17 years apart. Their mother fled Ethopia, and was forced to leave her children behind. She now works as a chef with Pomegranate Kitchen, a social enterprise seeking to empower and employ former refugee women.

Eyob’s mother is overjoyed about her son’s scholarship, saying her dream had come true.

Chosen from a pool of candidates, Eyob’s enthusiasm and passion impressed Beca’s Talent and Acquisition Partner Steve Scannell.

“We liked Eyob’s interest in sustainability and his concern about the lack of affordable housing that we have in New Zealand. We were impressed by Eyob’s innovative ideas for how to address the issue of there not being enough housing, through building smaller and more efficient houses,” Steve said.

The idea to support new Kiwis came from Beca Management Consultant Nina Ives. While working with former refugees as a New Zealand Red Cross Refugee Support Volunteer, Nina recognised an opportunity for businesses like Beca.

“New Zealand is such a small place and companies like Beca have strong and wide-reaching networks of contacts. For someone who has recently arrived in New Zealand, it can be difficult to break into the job market without such connections,” Nina says.

Beca is now exploring other initiatives to support former refugees, recently implementing a mentorship programme that pairs Beca employees with job-seeking former refugees. These mentoring relationships are important not only in building confidence but in developing networks and understanding the demands of professional New Zealand workplaces.

Businesses building connections

Nina and Steve are keen to encourage other businesses to connect with new arrivals.

“If industry professionals are able to connect with new arrivals and offer advice and connections to other industry professionals, then it will make getting a foot in the door a lot easier for new arrivals,” Nina says.

“In turn, this will create a more diverse and inclusive NZ workforce.”

How you can help

Our Pathways to Employment programme helps former refugees to navigate the New Zealand job market, supporting new Kiwis into work. If you or your business are keen to get involved you can find out more.