The 2010/02/26 at 14:18
Mentoring für Migrantinnen (“Mentoring for Migrants”) aims at integrating qualified immigrants into the Austrian employment market. According to an OECD study, Austria has amongst the weakest immigration qualification rates (11.3%) amongst the organisation’s member countries. “And those who are qualified have a limited knowledge of the national employment market and do not have access to professional networks,” observes Margit Kreuzhuber, in charge of immigration and integration issues at the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber. “But this gap should be filled given that this part of the population is truly interesting for companies: it is qualified and proficient in a foreign language.” For on the other hand, companies wishing to develop internationally encounter difficulties finding the right candidates. The programme has therefore latched onto the following principle: members of companies can play the role of mentors to participating immigrants. “We are trying to get participants involved in the company’s internationalisation projects,” specifies Margit Kreuzhuber.
The Austrian Federal Economic Chamber is in charge of financing and promoting this project, selecting mentors and training programmes for participants. Within the space of one year, over 200 mentoring contracts have been signed. Half of the mentors come from large companies, the other half from SMEs. “Around 40% of participants have been integrated into the employment market,” rejoices Margit Kreuzhuber. “In addition, even from the start, we have had no troubles in recruiting mentors. And 72% of these declare that they have benefited from the programme, emphasising that they have gained awareness in the living conditions of immigrants and the barriers that they come across in their insertion.” Meanwhile, the Polish Chamber of Commerce has set up, in conjunction with the Warsaw School of Economics and 16 regional training and consultancy centres (12 Chambers of Commerce and 4 training institutes), a programme aimed at providing unemployed women with new qualifications and helping them to create their own companies.
For inequalities between the sexes in terms of employment are evident; in 2008, only 52.4 % of women in Poland were employed, as opposed to 66.3% of men. With a budget of 10 million euros – financed by the Polish government and the European Social Fund –, this initiative was concretised in 2006 by 262 training sessions, each 12 days long, for 6,500 women, leading to the creation of 2,000 companies. These female entrepreneurs have moreover received bursaries for launching their businesses and those who have chosen to join Chambers have been able to benefit from free individual counselling services during the first three months of their activity.Finally, in the northwest of England, not far from Liverpool, the St Helens Chamber of Commerce has, since 2001, managed an information, consultancy, orientation and professional assessment centre. Endowed with its own premises in the city centre, and an itinerant team of over 30 persons, financed by European, national and local funds, Starting Point sets itself the task of keeping inhabitants on the employment market, whatever their age, sex, ethnic origin or education level. Its services include training programmes, skills assessment, personal development workshops, help with writing up CVs or with preparing for job interviews. “Unlike employment agencies, all our services are free and we offer much more objective advice,” states Joanna Boley, Coordinator of Starting Point at the St Helens Chamber. “For even if we organise employment fairs, we never seek to absolutely attribute vacant job offers at any price to people who do not correspond to the profile.”
Starting Point aims to be a unique service in the landscape of initiatives in favour of employment. “The St Helens Chamber has a very different approach from what exists elsewhere,” explains Joanna Boley. “We consider that our mission consists in supporting the whole of the community, and not just companies. It is this approach that has largely led to our winning of the prize for Chamber of the Year 2007 in the United Kingdom.” As proof of its success, some 2,000 persons filed through the doors of the Starting Point building in January 2010. “We carry out many evaluations and feedback is very positive,” says Joanna Boley. “A great number of persons have found jobs. Not to mention those who have regained their self-confidence thanks to our initiative, an advantage which is difficult to put a figure on.”
Mentoring for Migrants (Mentoring für Migrantinnen)
Austrian Federal Economic Chamber
New Qualifications, Employment and Entrepreneurship for Unemployed Women
Polish Chamber of Commerce
St Helens Chamber