Integrating humanitarian and economic migrants in the labour market

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In recent years, conflict, economic challenge and climate change have displaced increasing numbers of people who have risked much to seek new lives elsewhere for themselves and their families.

Whilst this phenomena is not new the numbers seeking help are. Many governments have struggled to socially and economically assimilate humanitarian and economic migrants. A Swedish government report shows that it takes on average some seven years to assimilate somebody who has been granted refugee status there. Although there is a relative shortage of international empirical evidence to show ‘what works’, service providers are increasingly coming together to share experience and best practice.

In Germany, the annual Zukunftskongress for Migration and Integration has established itself as one of the largest and most effective exchange platforms of its kind in the world. The event brings together Federal and Regional Government officials, service providers, NGOs and researchers to discuss both the policy and delivery practicalities of migration and integration work. Ingeus Germany’s CEO, Marc Hanke and International Relations Director, Anton Eckersley, have been invited to share information in this forum about Ingeus’s global programmes for people with migrant or refugee backgrounds and how the group has corralled best practice from these to shape its new demand-led ‘voucher integration programme’ in Germany.

At the top of the best practice list sits the need to start the integration process as early as possible and for it to be as holistic as possible. Employment results from employability programmes in Canada, Germany and Sweden show the importance of linking services like language, housing, health and job search to avoid silo disconnects.

Improving the way we use language to drive labour market integration is also important. In London, Ingeus’s English Language Tutors found that combining early language training with a focus on real life work situations and pre-work support, greatly improved the labour market integration outcomes of participants whose first language was not English compared to those attending purely language-focused courses.

Ingeus France has long history of developing innovative engagement tools to support young, socially excluded people from a variety of heritages in deprived neighbourhoods. Young people in particular often mistrust state institutions which means they can be unintentionally excluded from services in their community. Leveraging social media and delivering adviser services from ‘neutral’ locations like cafes and cinemas greatly increases both participation and ultimately job and training outcomes. Ingeus Germany has drawn on these lessons to ensure its programme participants get out into the real world to meet real people and real employers as part of their integration journey.

Our experience in the UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Canada shows that online services can increase accessibility for clients and improve employment outcomes. In Germany, the Federal government has created a particularly useful German language portal which provides a positive supplement to class-based training. Whilst the frequency of face-to-face contact with advisers varies between participants, it remains an important component of the support offered, in particular to help clients navigate unfamiliar and complex employment and local services systems.

Skills and employability provision for migrants and people of different heritages exist in most European Union states, although it varies in terms of aims, quality and cost. 2015 changed the equation fundamentally. With migration set to dominate political agendas for years to come, it will be vital for organisations across all sectors to work in partnership to turn what has been termed a ‘crisis’ for Europe today into an ‘opportunity’ for an ageing Europe tomorrow.