The FIER project aims at developing instruments and strategies for a fast-track labour market integration of disadvantaged groups among refugees and asylum-seekers. Our main objective is to develop quality competence assessment strategies, training curricula, self-empowerment initiatives, and a workplace language learning concept to reach a fast and successful integration process in different European areas.
The international refugee crisis has created a situation in which today more people are refugees than during World War II. Europe is facing an unprecedented number of asylum seekers and refugees: according to Eurostat1, in 2015 and 2016, up to more than 2.6 million asylum applications were recorded in Europe. In 2016, a total of 366,000 persons were granted refugee status in the EU-28 at first instance, 258,000 were given subsidiary protection status, and 48,000 were given authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons.
Most of the refugees granted permit to stay in Europe face a long journey before they can establish themselves in the labour market and become self-sufficient. Effective processes to integrate newly arrived individuals in the labour market is crucial to create an inclusive society and to reduce exclusion. Foreign-born individuals have the knowledge and experience that can bring considerable added value to the society. On a macro-level, unnecessary bureaucratic systems for the validation of training achieved in another country finally results in economic losses in the form of reduced tax revenues.
From a political and social point of view, a lack of integration helps to stoke the negative public perceptions of the phenomenon and a short term and populist approach to integration policies.
With the development of competence assessment strategies, training curricula, a workplace language learning concept and self-empowerment initiatives for refugees, the FIER project aims to develop instruments and strategies for a fast-track labour market integration targeting disadvantaged groups among refugees by means of the following processes:
1. Analyse the main challenges for the new arrivals, when it comes to establishment and integration; taking into account and making visible how the newcomers’ challenges vary depending on gender, ethnic origin, age, educational level, disabilities, religion or sexual orientation.
2. Identify, analyse, adapt and pilot different kinds of measures that are likely to be inclusive as regards disadvantaged groups and that are likely to have a positive impact on the individual’s integration into the labour market.
3. Capitalize on the wealth of existing but fragmented and not always easily accessible knowledge at local and regional level including main stakeholders (political, education sector, companies, etc.) but also individuals (locals, successfully-established immigrants and asylum seekers themselves).
4. Discuss and further foster knowledge and exchange experience on how the findings can facilitate the establishment of the new arrivals, particularly by :
- Clearly assuming the European Commission Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals, in particular, asylum seekers, refugees and their family members.
- Seeking synergies with activities conducted with the support of other initiatives and contributions.
The intervention model of the project is based on some underlying main principles that will be respected in any activity carried out in the framework of the project:
1. Focus set on skills and talents: every person has talents that can be used in working contexts.
2. Attention to women: being part of the workforce is considered to be one of the main tools to promote refugee women’s integration in the host society.
3. Language courses – not sufficient: there is a need of more courses that include, beside the learning activity of the language of the host country, an overview of the local culture, practical skills, and everyday problem solving.
4. Training activities linked to working places and companies.
5. Interactivity and innovation revolution: the link to the labour market is “new” and the consortium of FIER is ready for this together with the Erasmus+-funded project TALENTS and Support Group Network, a new setting directly linked to refugees and fast-track labour market integration.
6. Self-empowerment of refugees: a major key of integration lies in the refugees themselves. Activating their motivation, power and abilities is crucial for any integration efforts.