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Integrating humanitarian and economic migrants in the labour market

In 2015, over one million people – refugees, displaced persons and other migrants – arrived in Europe, either escaping conflict or in search of better economic prospects. Countries have often struggled to cope and are beginning to look at ways to both increase the speed and effectiveness of social and labour market integration.

In September 2016, Ingeus was invited to share its global experience at the Germany’s second national Zukunftskongress in Berlin. The event brought together federal and regional Government officials, service providers and NGOs to discuss both the policy and practicalities of future migration and integration policy. Ingeus Germany’s CEO, Mark Hanke and International Relations Director, Anton Eckersley, spoke about Ingeus’ global programmes for people with migrant or refugee backgrounds and how the group has corralled best practice from these to design its new integration programme in Germany.

With European Union evidence showing that it takes on average five years for a humanitarian migrant to find work, perhaps the most important lesson we have learned is that support needs to start as early as possible and to be as holistic as possible. Results from our earlier programmes in Germany and Sweden show the importance of linking services like language, housing and job search to avoid silo disconnects.

Improving the way we use language to drive labour market integration is also important. In London, Ingeus’ 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 compared to those attending purely language-focused courses.

Ingeus France has long been developing innovative engagement methods to support young migrants of North African heritage 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 increased the both participation engagement and job and training outcomes. Ingeus Germany has drawn on these lessons to ensure its programme participants get out into the real world and meet real people 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 will vary between participants, regular contact with advisers remains an important component of the support offered, in particular to help clients navigate unfamiliar and complex employment systems.

Skills and employability provision for humanitarian migrants 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 aging Europe tomorrow.