SHARE Integration roundtable in Cologne

 

On 30 October 2018, SHARE Integration partner MigrAfrica welcomed 23 representatives from migrant-led associations, NGOs, local authorities and volunteer groups to the German city of Cologne, in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, for a one-day SHARE roundtable meeting on labour market integration for refugees.

Roundtable participants were drawn from organisations active in integration for refugee resettlement and relocation in the smaller towns and municipalities surrounding Cologne, including Solingen (population 159,000), Meckenheim (population 25,000) and Bergisch Gladbach (population 112,000).

The roundtable aimed to address the issue of secondary movement of resettled and relocated persons seeking employment from smaller towns and cities in the North Rhine-Westphalia region to Cologne, a city with well-developed, specialised assistance for labour market integration for refugees and migrants. After a short discussion on challenges and opportunities of receiving refugees in smaller communities, participants learned about three best practice examples for labour market integration, which combined innovative approaches to vocational training, certification, job placements and facilitating self-employment.

 

Participants subsequently broke into smaller discussion groups, to identify good practice and in their localities, and determine potential future actions to expand it. 'We used the Appreciative Inquiry approach to guide our discussion, which helped us focus on what's working and how we can multiply this practice', explains Abraham Nida of MigrAfrica. 'We identified some really strong elements of local practice, for example volunteers supporting labour market integration, former refugees communicating their employment experiences to new arrivals, and platforms to enable relevant actors to share information and knowledge'.

Based on the outcomes of these discussions, roundtable participants together developed a set of specific objectives for future labour market integration for refugees, and produced an implementation plan to achieve them. 'It was hugely positive to be able to bring this group together to exchange experiences and ideas in this crucial area of integration' says Abraham. 'We have already presented out findings and planning to a conference on labour market integration, held in Cologne on 30 November and attended by over 150 participants. We're really looking forward to building further on the outcomes of the roundtable in the future and - ultimately - further improving access to employment for refugees across North Rhine-Westphalia.'

 

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