On June 21st 2018 SOS Malta hosted the final event of the EVA project in Valetta. About 70 people took part and were introduced to out platform and its possibilities. There was great interest in the tool and its potential to help migrants on their way to becoming entrepreneurs. Discussions and comments showed that there are indeed many obstacles for migrants depending on the country they are in.
The project manager from VIFIN, Denmark highlighted the options and opportunities of the platform, and how it is a flexible tool that can be used in different settings, educational situations and combination with other initiatives. (See the presentation of EVA here).
Other projects and initiatives regarding migrant integration into the labour market were introduced at the event as well. One of these was the PandPAS project (Pre and Post – Arrival Schemes to facilitate inclusion and prevent xenophobia and radicalization), aiming at producing tools for pre-departure activities, plus piloting experiences for inclusion and active participation of migrants into society (See slides here). SYNTHESIS (CY) presented some of the best practices identified, which can serve as inspiration for others – among these cases of entrepreneurship activities.
Another perspective on labour market integration was given by VIFIN (DK), from the EMBRACE project (See slides). This project focuses on assessing the skills of migrants recently arrived from countries outside the EU, and improving their access to especially the food and agricultural business. Also VIFIN presented the MigrAID tools that are being developed to facilitate work place inclusion of migrants and diversity management in SMVs in Europe. This is done among other initiatives with the development of a conflict resolution simulator to train skills of employers and employees. (See slides).
A practical example of migrant entrepreneurship was given by Migrant Women Association Malta, who told the story of the Saha Foodtruck and how it is empowering women to earn their own money by using the skills they have.
We were fortunate enough to have the participation of stakeholders from the EU Service-Agency in Saxony-Anhalt (DE) (see slides) and from INDIRE, the Italian National Agency for Erasmus+ (IT) (see slides), who gave us insight into the work they do to promote European cooperation. An introduction to the EPALE platform by INDIRE was inspiring for all.
During group discussions on different entrepreneurship and integration topics, it was evident in all groups, that language matters. It can be a great barrier to integrate into the labour market or start a business, if you do not speak the local language. Also there seems to be a barrier in several countries, that some of the available language learning possibilities does not start at a basic level, but require some initial knowledge that migrants do not have. When it comes to migrant women, there seems to be another set of challenges for their labour market integration or entrepreneurship possibilities. These are in some countries related to childcare facilities, a focus on limited business fields, and low self-esteem.
These aspects were also mentioned in the panel discussion between the 5 partner countries of the project, where some good practices were presented and a more general perspective of challenges were given.
Proposed solutions to help migrant entrepreneurs overall Europe were to include entrepreneurship competencies in education/training, facilitate language learning and improve self-esteem, and most importantly seen in the light of the EVA platform: provide better orientation opportunities, so migrants are better aware of the options and possibilities. We hope the EVA platform will contribute to this work.