The role of TVET in migrants’ integration: case studies from the European context

On the 10th and 11th of December 2019, I have had the opportunity to participate to the  “Bridging Innovation and Learning in TVET (BILT) Thematic Workshop – Migration and TVET in Nottingham, UK. At this venue, the goals and activities of KATE project were presented; at the same time, it was a priceless opportunity to get insights from different countries of Europe (from the local to the international level) about migrants' integration and inclusion under the educational, economic, and socio-cultural point of view. Emphasis has been on the role of TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) in migrants’ integration. Case studies were drawn among others from projects, non-profit organizations, international institutions, TVET, and elementary schools.

Within modern borders, which are multidimensional and porous, defining migration is an increasingly complex phenomenon, and it creates different questions and typologies, for instance reasons for migration, how societies respond to migration, how it is regulated or unregulated, etc. At the same time, this creates a wide variety of migrants, including economic/labour migrants, refugees, internal migrants, etc. As of 2015, there were 244 million migrants out of a global population of 7.3 billion: 1 every 30 people. Migrants face all kinds of barriers, including administrative and legal, labour market barriers, education and training barriers, as well as socio-cultural differences. Critical points include both the lack of adequate skills of migrants, and the lack of adequate services provided to them. Within this context, the role of VET can be related for instance to access and provision, mental health and well-being, support accessing to work and language support, skilling and recognition of skills, fast-track integration, and increased economic participation. 

Looking at the different local case studies discussed, in Spain for instance the Empleando Digital project has had the goal of improving and innovating methodologies and procedures in supporting vulnerable people on their path to find employment. Tasks have included the raising of awareness of digital culture, reviewing and updating employment methodologies, as well as the employment of digital tools both for training and for accessing employment. This is as a matter of fact very close to what we do in KATE project, where we aim to promote and develop digital services to speed the transition of our customers to working life.   

From the Netherlands, the activities and results of the project “In de Zorg-Uit de Zorgen” (english translation: work in health care, do not worry) were presented. Within this project, eight cooperating refugee, care, and labour market organizations support refugees in finding work or internship in the care sector. Firstly, refugees receive information within the education and care sector; secondly, there is a screening to determine whether the candidate is suitable. After that, a variety of tools, methodologies, and training prepares candidates for jobs/training in the health sector. Last but not least, all kinds of information and guidelines are diffused to influence the perception of and about refugees in the health care sector. 

Within the Finnish context, the ministry of Employment is responsible for the integration of migrants. Integration training includes both language teaching and vocational planning, and it is a joint effort between public and private sectors. During the workshop, the activities of Omnia were presented. Omnia is a non-profit organization located in Espoo (Helsinki metropolitan area), and supports life-long learning to improve the work opportunities of migrants, as well as to respond to their needs and integration. In Finland, such integrated centers of expertise like Omnia are getting more and more ground especially in the most populous urban areas of the country.   

Within the Italian context, a successful story is the Cometa VET Center, located in the Region of Lombardia, which since 2009 has provided integral human development, with specific emphasis on professional training and transition to working life. In the first phase, skills’ mapping is undertaken; thereafter, a mini-master has been devised to train future hotel and restaurant staff. Training not only includes basic and technical skills, but also the learning of the local culture. After the training phase, the match-making with companies is undertaken; there is a strong collaboration with more than 700 companies, and the placement rate is above 70%.  According to the Cometa approach, it is very important that professional skills, but also culture, sport, basic skills, social emotional learning and personal tutoring are deeply integrated. 

In Cyprus a variety of measures for improving social and educational integration of migrants coming from developing countries have been undertaken in five schools: 3 primary schools, a gymnasium, and a kindergarten. Such measures have involved on the one hand the training of school leaders and teachers, and on the other hand the involvement of parents and the local community. 

In Malta, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology has had a crucial role in integrating the increasing flow of political migrants from Africa, but also economic migrants from the eastern and other European countries. The teaching of maltese and english language, as well as local culture has been  adopted across all programmes of studies and at all levels, and at the same time, in cooperation with the Ministry of European affairs and Equality this institution assists migrants in the acquisition of residency permits. Very similarly, in Sweden the Hälsingland utbildningsförbund provides a combination/integration of: 1) 100 hours of compulsory civic education to all immigrants with a resident’s permit in their native language; 2) the learning of swedish language during the first two years; 3) training with integrated language training in a variety of sectors, specifically trade and administration, housekeeping/cleaning services, electrician, wood worker, preschool assistant, language tutor and nursing assistant. ​

A key conclusion from the workshop is that one size does not fit all and migrants’ integration is geographically contingent and thus has to take into account the local social, economic, administrative and cultural context. A tailored, personalized, and above all, integrated approach is needed to open new opportunities for migrants’ education and employment. Also skills’ recognition, and its assessment procedures need to be strengthened and streamlined within Europe and beyond. 

Fulvio Rizzo, KATE Project Manager
For more information: fulvio.rizzo@otavia.fi, +358401294987

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