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BILT Workshop on Migration and TVET

10-11 December 2019, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom

Throughout the world, forced displacement and voluntary migration continue to increase because of conflicts, economic situations, and the effects of climate change. The current total number of displaced people is estimated at 70.8 million (UNHCR), with the overall number of international migrants reaching 272 million (UN DESA) in 2019. In the European Union, 22.3 million people – or 4.4% of the EU population – are citizens of non-EU countries. The proportion of the working age population within this group is higher when compared to European citizens.

In this context, TVET can play an important role in migrants’ inclusion in their host societies, speeding up and improving their integration into the labour market, whilst also reducing inequalities. To fulfil this role, host countries’ TVET systems must adapt to meet migrants’ needs, including the recognition of prior learning and qualifications, language support, career guidance, psychological support, and adaptation of TVET curricula for use with migrant populations.

Tackling TVET challenges related to new qualifications and competencies

The BILT workshop on ‘Migration and TVET’ brought together experts from nine European countries (Cyprus, Germany, Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and UK) to discuss concrete responses to migration-related challenges in the three following topics:

  • Recognition of prior learning and qualifications & labour market integration
  • Social inclusion of migrants
  • International skills and labour mobility
In the course of two days, thematic experts from European TVET institutions, local authorities, and governmental bodies, presented their innovative approaches to recognition of migrants’ skills and qualifications, labour market integration, and social inclusion of migrants. Participants were able to explore in detail the circumstances for each approach and discuss their added value, impact on curricula, and transferability to other country contexts.

Additionally, a component of this workshop included a panel discussion on ‘Labour and Skills Mobility’, as policies on migration management are starting to focus on the international collaboration and building legal pathways for migration. Moderated by representatives from the University of Nottingham, the panel discussion featured representatives from the International Organization for Migration, International Labour Organization, CEDEFOP, and Centre for Global Development Studies think tank.

Key findings

Participants emphasized that one component of integration should be a focus on migrants themselves, but other considerations should include efforts to prepare host communities so they understand the particular needs and requirements of this vulnerable group. In addition, it should be acknowledged that migrants are not a homogeneous group, with individuals encountering different issues in accessing TVET and the labour market. The approach to migrant integration may vary depending on whether migration is driven by displacement, employment, or family reasons. This can also challenge the capacity of TVET teachers, who experience pressure in meeting the needs of everyone in their classroom, and therefore need additional support.

Regarding addressing migrants’ immediate skill gaps, language was stated as a main obstacle to the integration of migrants in European TVET systems. There is a need for migrants to acquire a general language proficiency, but also vocational language specific to their future profession. For this purpose, some countries like Sweden introduce language and cultural modules into vocational education and training to speed up and improve migrants’ integration in the host countries’ labour markets. Finally, a successful approach to the integration would also involve individual coaching and guidance available at the TVET institution. This can be implemented through a ‘Tutoring’ scheme, with a teacher or a peer student helping the migrant navigate their host countries’ TVET and society, as in the example of Malta.

For more information about the workshop on Migration and TVET, please consult the workshop agenda and participants overview.

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