Looking for a sustainable mentoring model for refugees integration

In the transnational project MeMoRe, funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), we develop a sustainable transnational mentoring model with a special focus on the integration of low-qualified refugees into the labour market in Flanders and the rest of Europe. In this project the ESF funded partners and projects in Flanders, Finland, Sweden and Germany are involved.

 Jyväskylä Educational Consortium (Finland) & Hefboom (Belgium)

The inflow of migrants to the European Union has dramatically increased in 2015 mostly due to the civil war in Syria but also due to other conflicts in Africa and in the Middle East. The number of refugees constitutes a challenge to those member states where refugees choose to seek asylum. At the same time, many countries in the European Union struggle with demographic situations with an ageing population and a mismatch on the labour markets – a deficit of skilled workers in industry, health care and other non-academic sectors on the labour markets.

Mentoring is in many European think tanks recommended as a critical success factor for the integration of refugees in the labour market, in addition to generic key elements that support integration such as language immersion, individual integration plans, recognition of diplomas (Petrovic, 2015). Several policy papers however recommend to seek out sustainable models of mentoring. Mentoring programs often succeed in building services that meet the needs of their (high educated) clients and the larger community, but they often lack the knowledge, skills, time, and internal systems to sustain their program over the long term. Further we find that integration of refugees into the labour market is generally focused on highly qualified people. This seems to be not different for mentoring projects across Europe.

In the transnational project MeMoRe, funded by the European Social Fund, we develop an effective and sustainable mentoring model for the integration of refugees on the labour market. In this project we will have special attention for the effectiveness and sustainability of mentoring initiatives which have (also) less qualified refugees as a target group.

In this transnational project the following ESF funded partners and projects are involved, which all contribute to the transnational goal as mentioned above:

  • MeMoRe Flanders is a cooperation of Hefboom, HIVA (University of Leuven) and Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen. The Flemish part of the project will develop a self-evaluation tool for effective and sustainable mentoring for the integration of refugees on the labour market. Therefore we study the concepts of mentoring and sustainability, study best practices in mentoring for low qualified refugees, and research what mentoring programs can learn from the practice and the business model Work Integration Social Enterprises (WISE). We focus on WISE because of their active policy towards integrating low-educated migrants on the workplace. Contact: stephanie.bonnave@hefboom.be and peter.decuyper@kuleuven.be
  • Mentoring Migrants in the Upper Secondary Level Education (MentoMigri) (Finland). This project of the Jyväskylä Educational Consortium is developing a model for mentoring migrant students in Upper Secondary Level Education (USLE) and a model for training mentors. Special attention will go out to the improvement of multicultural skills and knowledge. Contact: malin@jao.fi
  • Bottom Up Integration (Integration in Sweden), focusing on the perspectives from immigrants between 15-65 years old living in Sweden. The project is especially interested in understanding which constraints exist for individual integration after migrating. Contact: info@gabigal.se
  • MeMoGa of Landesnetzwerk der Migrantenorganisationen Sachsen-Anhalt e.V. (Germany): the main aim of the project is to allow access to the labour market through the development of creative and sustainable mentoring programs and to create new models for the employment for those without formal qualifications. Contact: info@lamsa.de

We work also together with Harz University of Applied Sciences, Department of Public Management who work on the project ‘Integrated Refugee Management in Theory and Practice’ (IntegriF).  This project will have a close look at structures and processes of mentoring-relevant interfaces with the German Integrated Refugee Management approach to incoming refugees adds a governance dimension to MeMoRe. Contact: bapfelbaum@hs-harz.de

The coordination of the transnational project MeMoRe is the responsibility of Hefboom. Hefboom strives to create a better and more sustainable society through its management consulting, financing and other services for companies, organizations and projects with a social purpose.

Contact coordinator: valerie.carrette@hefboom.be

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