Promising practice in the area of labour market / social integration of refugees

Αντώνης Πύργος,

Σύμβουλος στους τομείς της κοινωνικής πολιτικής και της κοινωνικής ένταξης, της μετανάστευσης, της αγοράς εργασίας

Title of the policy: Fast tracks – a quicker introduction of newly arrived immigrants

Keywords: Fast track, labour market participation, skills profiling, skills recognition, training/upskilling, newly arrived immigrants


National labour market/social context

In Sweden, the Swedish Public Employment Service has a coordinating responsibility for the introduction of new arrivals under the Act on establishment contributions for newly arrived immigrants (2010:197). This means that people who are over the age of 20 and under the age of 65 and have a residence permit as a refugee, quota refugee, person in need of protection or their relatives are registered for introduction activities. An introduction plan helps people receive what they need to enable them to enter the labour market, for example, Swedish language training, work experience or employment training. As a rule, the introduction plan runs for a maximum of two years. Participants also receive financial support. An increasing proportion of people taking part in introduction activities have a post-secondary education of two years or more. Many of them have education and training in occupations where Sweden has a shortage of skilled and experienced labour. These include engineers, teachers, technicians and doctors. There are gains to be made by more quickly putting to use new arrivals’ knowledge and skills, both for the individuals concerned and for society as a whole.

The Swedish Government wants to shorten the time it takes for newly arrived immigrants to find work. They should quickly find work that is relevant to their education and experience, and sectors with labour shortages should receive assistance through the provision of skills.

The Government wants newly arrived immigrants in Sweden to quickly find a workplace that is relevant to the individual’s education, experience and interest. At the same time, there is a shortage of labour in many industries; these are now being helped with the provision of skills through the creation of fast tracks by the Swedish Public Employment Service and the industries, to make it easier for newly arrived immigrants to establish themselves in the labour market.


Main activities/actions underpinning the policy or measure

Fast track components

  • Swedish language training will start as early as at the asylum centres.
  • Early assessment of the experience, skills and motivation of newly arrived immigrants.
  • Validation and assessment of education and professional skills according to industry-specific requirements.
  • Vocational and study guidance.
  • Fast track and employment matching.
  • Swedish language training that is relevant for the professional area.
  • Supplementary educational initiatives as necessary.
  • Language training/supplementary courses will be combined with a work placement or job.
  • Language support, supervisors and mentors at the workplaces.


Management and implementation arrangements

The introductory tripartite talks were conducted with the representative bodies: the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, the Swedish Agency for Government Employers, the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations. These were followed by industry-specific tripartite talks in the industrial, construction, private and public sectors. In-depth tripartite talks were then held with the partner constellations that had expressed an interest in designing fast tracks in their industry or for a particular occupational category. Relevant government agencies also took part in these in-depth tripartite talks. The primary aim of the in-depth talks was to establish contact between the social partners, the Swedish Public Employment Service and other relevant government agencies. These talks emphasised that early skills mapping and high-quality and accurate matching are important for the success of fast tracks. Many trade unions and employer organisations also highlighted the importance of the need to safeguard the quality of validation and authorisation processes so that requirements are not lowered in an eagerness to speed up the processes. After the final round of talks, the Swedish Public Employment Service assumed responsibility for convening the relevant trade unions, employer organisations and government agencies to take the process forward and give fast tracks concrete form. The Government Offices did not take part in these meetings.


Key challenges

Employers’ organizations do not have the mandate to promise, for example, a certain number of professional assessment-training. Swedish language training that is relevant for the professional area. Recruitment of qualified teachers is a problem. Fast Tracks involve several different actions from different actors, which should be done in a certain sequence and with a short time lag between actions. This will put high demands on the processing and delivery of Public Employment Service, other authorities, providers and employers. Strong demand from employers for information on fast tracks.


Links to the website, background information and assessment material—a-quicker-introduction-of-newly-arrived-immigrants/



Title of the policy: Accelerate refugees’ integration process – Programme Accelair

Keywords: Labour market, skills recognition, language training, housing, health care


National labour market/social context

The Accelair programme was born out of the realisation that: – refugees’ situation gets more and more precarious because of the labour opportunities they encounter (or lack thereof) – the refugees receiving the RSA (revenue of active solidarity) are accompanied in a way that does not allow them to mobilise their skills or to work while learning French – refugees that do not live in centres are rarely included in the housing system put in place for asylum seekers – the rehousing and aid vary considerably according to the Department Councils – integration mechanisms for the general population are numerous but they do not necessarily apply to refugees.

The majority of refugees have low income which makes their access to private housing difficult. The Accelair programme turned to social housing in order to find housing adapted to the needs and resources of the accompanied refugees.

Local hiring sectors are low-skilled sectors requiring specific skills and a good level of French. Access to the labour market is therefore more complicated for qualified BPI or for non-French speakers (respectively 37% and 81% of the refugees accompanied in 2015). This is compounded by an unfavourable context in which foreign qualifications are not recognised – and BPI rarely able to present proof of their education or professional experiences – and possible discriminations can arise.

In addition to their partial command of the French language and the nonrecognition of their professional past, refugees face several other difficulties during their integration process: misrepresentations of the labour market, no network, little knowledge of job-search techniques, etc. Besides, with the economic crisis and the increase of unemployment level over the last decade in the Rhône department – to reach 9.5% for the third trimester of 2015 – beneficiaries of international protection find themselves “competing” with non-refugee unemployed persons for the same jobs.


Specific policy, labour market or social problem being addressed

The programme aims at building bridges with ordinary law measures to maximise integration for Accelair’s beneficiaries, engaging in partnerships with public services for employment, vocational training institutes and local and national businesses.

It can also happen that ordinary law is not able to provide an answer to match some of the specific needs of beneficiaries of international protection. To overcome this obstacle, Accelair develops specific training actions, for instance French as a Foreign Language (FFL) classes to learn specialised vocabulary related to hiring sectors.


Aims and objectives of the policy or measure

The programme’s objectives are: – all beneficiaries effectively access social rights to which they are entitled, including social allowances (Revenu de solidarité active) – all beneficiaries are accompanied for the definition of their professional project and implementation of necessary steps to achieve it – this is done in coordination between labour, training and housing policies

Yearly quantitative objectives are: – all adults able to work are accompanied, including 200 in the framework of the RSA (professional support delegated by local authorities to the programme) – 180 measures of professional or linguistic training are entered – 180 work contracts are signed

The actions in the framework of this programme are based on the existing policies in terms of access to housing and labour. Accelair aims at creating policies that fill in the gaps in the existing legislative landscape, and at raising awareness among local actors and to offer them help in adapting their actions to refugees.


Main activities/actions underpinning the policy or measure

For beneficiaries of international protection: – Guidance towards vocational or linguistic training and employment: skills assessment, linguistic training, development of a training/career plan, job-search techniques, networking, funding of specific trainings, etc. – Assistance within the workplace for the duration of the contract (or during the trial period)

For employment and training stakeholders: – Awareness-raising for businesses, public services, etc. on the rights of our beneficiaries – Support to businesses to hire our beneficiaries, among others through the technical committee on employment – Provision of interpreters on demand – Promotion of specific measures for people under 25; who are not eligible to the RSA

For housing: there is a group agreement with social housing institutions that dedicates a quota of housing to refugees. The convention is divided in: – The preparation group to the technical housing committee, that detects problems linked to housing of refugees and suggest solutions – The technical committee; that follows-up on housing attributions and establishes priorities and strategies. – Accelair also organises awareness raising events for landlords to get to know refugee issues.

Specific measures to address the gaps of the ordinary law: – FFL classes focusing on specific professions to acquire specialised vocabulary – FFL classes dedicated to illiterate persons using a tailored teaching technique


Outputs and outcomes of the policy or measure

Accelair provides support to around 70-80% of new beneficiaries of international protection in the Rhône department each year. Between 2002 and 2014, Accelair accompanied more than 6,300 beneficiaries of international protection. More than 2,150 leases and more than 4,500 trainings and contracts were signed (2,800 work contracts, 1,700 vocational and linguistic trainings).


Links to the website, background information and assessment material


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