At the Validation Festival in Brussels on Unlocking Talents MIRVA member Gear Up co-moderated a workshop together with the Dutch Council for Refugees on the sustainable integration of status holders.

Efrem Gebreab from the Dutch Council for Refugees on stage

Background

On validation there are specific arrangements/projects going on around the Member States that are targeted at migrants and/or refugees. Although millions of refugees and migrants arrived in Europe throughout the past years, only a few number of Member States have reported migrants as one of the main users of the validation processes. In the meantime we have learnt a few lessons on validation measures for migrants, but there’s still a lot to gain. Early stakeholder involvement and cooperation between key actors are critical to the success of validation opportunities for migrants/refugees. For ensuring the best level of support for migrants many actors should be involved, as early as possible, ideally meeting at one place in an informal setting.

© World Press Photo 2013 – John Stanmeyer – VII – National Geographic

Reflecting these developments, the aim of this session is to take stock of good examples and offer a platform to discuss the added value of new solutions and opportunities on the field of validation for migrants/refugees. In the workshop, a few good practices were shared from a diverse set of angles (e.g. from the perspective of a refugee, an organization dealing with validation and an example of an innovative/technical tool on validation). After that, there was room for (open) discussions among the participants. The main questions surrounding the discussions were: How could we create broad stakeholder involvement and cooperation among key actors? How can we make tailored support for a highly heterogeneous migrant / refugee population? And how can we communicate new and innovative practices among these stakeholders?

Read more - Main findings related to validation of migrants from workshop Recognising and developing skills – Best practices:

  • Early intervention at the very initial stage is key (e.g. fast-track procedures) to ensure that skills’ validation takes place as soon as possible to avoid losses in skills while people are waiting for their status to be determined. When providing assistance in asylum centres, information on the status, prospects and the uncertainty surrounding the process need to be clearly conveyed to the migrants. Waiting for a long time for a status determination can be extremely hard, also given a situation of physical confinement.
  • It is crucial to ensure that migrants and service providers can find the right information. Support staff is needed to facilitate the assessment / validation processes as not all migrants can easily go through the process on their own. There is no single, perfect assessment tool but this is not a problem. A diversity of complementary tools is beneficial (tailored/ practical/ visual).
  • Tools in various languages are needed, taking into account the different levels of linguistic ability, with use of visualisation where necessary. Best practices need to be collected, also taking into account the different audiences (e.g. migrants, employers, local authorities).
  • For ensuring the best level of support for migrants many actors should be involved. It would be important to have a place where people can meet and see the talents in an informal setting.
  • There are issues with the administrative requirements and the length of procedures for validation. Streamlining approaches at EU level and between the national and local levels would also be important.
  • Building trust is the first necessary step as there are many barriers preventing migrants to open up. Their specific needs have to be taken into account (e.g. to be able to reconcile their family responsibilities when training is provided). Comprehensive support initiatives are therefore important (e.g. the ‘Duo for a Job’ buddy system is promising), and the support should focus on work-related skills.
  • Migrants often need to broaden their network. Volunteering can, for example, also help them gain relevant labour market skills. The challenge is that refugees are often not seen as potential volunteers.
  • Whereas it would be desirable to reduce the waiting time in asylum centres, participants agreed that psychological support is essential. Experience with the situation of refugees from the Balkans shows that some people suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome with a time lag, i.e. once they had got themselves into a stable situation and found a job.

Boot camp for sustainable integration of status holders in Breda

The Council for refugees in Breda started a new project for the status holders in March 2018. This project is called Boot camp Dare and Do.

What is the Boot camp Dare and Do?

The boot camp is an intensive training course towards sustainable integration. It is an intensive process aimed at all areas of life. The new beginning in a new society has different keys. From this point we find that the importance of our project is in the covering of all life’s areas.

The refugees who arrived at Netherlands found that it is very difficult to know their way into Dutch society. They face a lot of barriers as the language, the culture, and the new start in a new society. The difference between a “we culture” (country of origin) and an “I culture” (Dutch society) and provides a barrier to participate in Dutch society on the basis of equality.

The result is that status holders do not know how they can and should act in various areas such as social manners, network enlargement, (psychosocial) health, self-reliance and participation. Many status holders also indicate that they feel isolated, so that people end up in a negative spiral.

From this point the status holders follow an intensive process in which they develop skills and are given the right tools so that they can take control of themselves and proactively participate in society. This contributes to psychosocial, mental and physical well-being in the respective areas of life.

The project is divided in two periods, the first period includes the person development, sport, hobbies and free time. The aim of the first period is to build a healthy body and mind and to discover their power and abilities. Then comes the digital skills via the computer lessons.

The second period aims to prepare the attendees to the job market or education. They get courses over the way to work (application system, skills development, tour to different companies, schools … etc.). We prepare to invest their abilities in the right way, to build the bridge between refugees and the employer.

The goals for the boot camp

  • To have control over your own future
  • Sustainable integration
  • Thorough knowledge of Dutch system
  • Rights and obligations
  • Making and dealing with cultural differences with regard to work
  • To equip candidates well with practical tools for the future
  • Self-confidence / positivity
  • Trust in the Netherlands – impact on future generations

How to make these skills visible and actionable?

The skills status holders developed are important to them but also for their working career. In what way can we make these skills visible and actionable to them and to for example potential employers? And what was the effect of the boot camp on the status holders? A self-assessment can be used as a starting point and a second to see the effect of the boot camp.

EU Skills Profile Tool for Migrants and Refugees

This is a online self-assessment tool that can document or evidence migrants skills as a pre-condition to get into the labour market and the educational systems in the Member States of the EU.

With the Skills Profile Tool in combination with Open Badges a migrant can claim his skills that are stored in an open badge. Or he has already a badge for (some of) his skills and that can be used to fill the online CV tool with relevant information.

Open Badges integration

Open Badges were only issued by awarding bodies like schools in the past. Now, with the new specifications, a person can be endorsed by peers, or his community. Also, you can issue yourself a badge (by signing the badge before you start a training for example) and ask others (like the trainer after finishing the training, and the line manager if he is satisfied that the learning is transferred into the workplace) to sign the badge.

During the Summer of Code we will be working on this integration to make this use case real. On the coming ePIC 2018 during the Open Recognition week in Paris we will be presenting our findings.


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