copy the linklink copied!1. Overview: Unlocking the potential of migrants through vocational education and training

This chapter presents an overview of the project Unlocking the Potential of Migrants through Vocational Education and Training (VET). The chapter first provides details on the objective and context of the study. It then highlights the opportunities presented by the arrival of young humanitarian migrants and explains the challenges faced by VET systems in addressing specific barriers, which can be expected to hinder successful progress through VET. The chapter sets out why VET can be a particularly effective approach to integrate migrants, in particular humanitarian migrants. Finally, the chapter summarises the main findings of the report based on an analysis of major OECD countries that have been significantly affected by the recent increase of humanitarian migrants.

    

copy the linklink copied!Objective, focus and context of this study

Providing advice for VET systems seeking to integrate young migrants and refugees into the host-country labour market

The objective of this study is to provide advice to governments and other stakeholders seeking to use vocational education and training (VET) to integrate young migrants, in particular humanitarian migrants, into the labour market. The study draws on international practices to enrich evidence and help countries to learn from each other (Box 1.1).

The recent significant increase in humanitarian migrants in OECD countries is a challenge, but also an opportunity for many countries. VET systems are commonly tasked with ensuring that all learners, including many migrants, are equipped with skills leading to employment. With its sharp, practical focus on enabling individuals to access skilled jobs, VET is well-placed to enable the integration of migrants into economic life, deepening their social interaction with native communities. But it can only do so if it remains or becomes attractive to both employers and learners. This requires that any adaptations implemented to address specific barriers faced by migrants preventing successful progression through VET must also support, or even improve, high standards and quality of provision.

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Box 1.1. The OECD project Unlocking the Potential of Migrants through VET

The project Unlocking the Potential of Migrants through VET provides new insights into how VET systems can adapt to more successfully integrate migrants into their host countries, so as to achieve better outcomes for both migrants and for economies as a whole. The project covers two parts: a review of VET in Germany (Bergseng, Degler and Lüthi, 2019[1]) and a cross-country review.

This cross-country study draws on national experiences across OECD countries with focuses particularly on Germany, Italy, Sweden and Switzerland. Many other OECD countries provided responses through a questionnaire that the OECD review team circulated among the OECD Group of National Experts on Vocational Education and Training in 2018. Governments shared information on policy challenges, solutions and innovative approaches regarding migrant integration through VET.

In addition, examples on Germany and Sweden draw heavily on their respective VET reviews (Bergseng, Degler and Lüthi, 2019[1]; Kuczera and Jeon, 2019[2]). The focus of Germany study is also fully on the integration of migrants through VET while with regard to Sweden, one chapter is devoted to this. Examples on Italy and Switzerland are mainly based on their respective country notes (Lüthi, forthcoming[3]; Savitki and Jeon, forthcoming[4]). Collectively, this work intends to serve as a useful tool for policy makers in the countries responding to significant increases in humanitarian migrants.

Areas of focus

This study focuses on young migrants, in particular humanitarian migrants, aged between 15 and 34 and mainly their integration into upper-secondary vocational education and training (VET) systems. Overall, this study encompasses young migrants in general unless the population is specified (Box 1.2). It also partly covers the access to non-formal VET systems among young adults who have no access to upper-secondary VET systems.

Across the OECD in 2017, 27% of people aged 15-34, or 59 million people in total, had a migrant background. This was an increase of 4 percentage points over the previous decade (OECD/EU, 2018[5]). Between 2014 and 2017, more than 5.3 million asylum seekers arrived in OECD countries1 and over 50% of those arriving in Europe2 were aged 18-34 (OECD, 2018[6]). Of these, many – though not all – have obtained some form of international protection and are therefore classified as humanitarian migrants (Box 1.2).

Many of these migrants are potential students and represent a direct and immediate interest to VET systems. However, they may not be aware of the educational and economic opportunities available, or travelled with a specific occupational ambition in mind, appropriate documents to prove their skills and qualification, or with existing networks linking them to prospective employers. Moreover, many have missed out on periods of formal schooling and have a weak understanding of the host country’s educational system in general, and the VET system in particular, which varies substantially between countries. Humanitarian migrants also tend to have lower educational attainments and lower labour market outcomes compared to other migrants (Irastorza and Bevelander, 2017[7]; KEK-CDC & B,S,S., 2014[8]; OECD and European Union, 2016[9]; Damas de Matos and Liebig, 2014[10]).

Therefore, in order to ensure that VET systems take advantage of the opportunities presented by humanitarian migrants – and that migrants themselves are in a position to take advantage of attractive opportunities presented by the VET system – it is important to address the barriers preventing smooth entry into, and completion of, VET. These barriers relate to the aspects of skills, social network and country-specific knowledge (Norris, 2011[11]), importantly: i) lack of skills desired by VET employers; ii) lack of social networks linked to VET workplaces; and iii) lack of host-country specific knowledge and understanding, in particular on the VET system and opportunities.

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Box 1.2. Focus and definition of migrants in this study

Humanitarian migrants (mostly referred to as refugees) refer to people who have been granted some sort of protection.

Asylum seekers are people who have formally applied for asylum, but whose claim is pending.

Migrant is used as a generic term for all persons who move to another country and intend to stay in the country for a certain period of time, regardless of their reason for migration.

Youth with a migrant background include, unless specified: i) foreign-born youth, and ii) native-born youth with both parents who are foreign-born.

Source: OECD (2016[12]), Making Integration Work: Refugees and Others in Need of Protection, Making Integration Work, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264251236-en.

Context of this study

VET systems across the OECD

Vocational education and training (VET) includes education and training programmes designed for, and typically leading to, a particular job or type of job (OECD, 2010[13]). VET comprises a broad range of approaches and strategies that aim to enable the school-to-work transitions of youth and prepare adults for new career opportunities.

Upper-secondary VET can be composed of both school and workplace learning, such as apprenticeships (Box 1.3 for the definition of work-based learning), and will involve, to degrees which vary between countries, elements of general education, such as literacy and numeracy (OECD, 2018[14]).

For example, Germany’s dual VET programmes combine education and training at workplace and in VET schools. Sweden’s school-based VET programmes offer courses with strong academic skills and technical training and a minimum 15-week work placement – this highly flexible VET system with a well-developed individualised approach allows different mixes of VET across transitional, mainstream upper-secondary and adult education systems. In Switzerland, the successful VET system readily encourages disadvantaged students to enter a 2-year VET programme that requires a less demanding level of skills and then can be subsequently continued with the 3-year VET programme of more demanding courses. In Italy, the proven success of work-based training through regional VET provision has driven the national VET system to have more work-based components. The country is aware of the strength of dual system with a strong emphasis on apprenticeship; and in the environment with currently weak social partner engagement, the country has implemented several alternative ways to promote work-based learning.

Over the past decade (2005-16), the OECD average share of students enrolled in upper-secondary VET programmes remained steady at about 45% (Figure 1.1, noting that due to the reclassification from ISCED-1997 to ISCED-2011 as well as the variation of ages of students enrolled in upper-secondary VET across countries, this data should be interpreted with caution).

Looking closer, Germany saw the largest decrease in the share of students enrolled in upper-secondary VET, by 12 percentage points (pp) between 2005 and 2012 (ISCED-97) and another 10 pp between 2013 and 2016 (ISCED-11) – a trend which seems to reflect what is seen in Figure 1.1. With corrected figures by ISCED-11, the share in Sweden also declined by 12 pp between 2005 and 2016, and the share in Italy by 2 pp.3

The range of the shares in 2016 is from 73% in the Czech Republic to 9% in Canada. The share of migrant students in the upper-secondary VET also varies, ranging from 8.3% in Denmark (entrants) to 27% in the Netherlands (enrolments) – this is discussed in Chapter 4.

Recently, many young asylum seekers arrived in OECD countries

In Germany, 839 000 or 46% of asylum seekers were aged 18-34 and in Italy, 358 000 or 79%. France (242k), Hungary (148k) and Sweden (133k) received more than 100 000 young people but the recognition rates of asylum seekers vary (Figure 1.2). The influx has had a significant impact on a number of OECD countries. For example, due to the increased inflows of asylum-seekers, the population of low-educated young men is estimated to have grown by 18% in Austria, 16% in Germany, 14% in Sweden and 8% in Switzerland between 2014 and 2017. This relative change in working-age population is the difference between the estimated refugee working-age population accounting for increased inflows since January 2014 and the counterfactual refugee working-age population (i.e. assuming that asylum applications in 2014-20 remain equal to the 2011-13 average), divided by the total working-age population in December 2013 (OECD, 2018[6]).4

Poor labour market outcomes for humanitarian migrants are commonplace

Available evidence suggests that poor labour market outcomes for refugees are commonplace, with individuals trapped outside of labour market or in low-skilled employment. The employment rates of refugees are often lower than both the native population and other categories of migrants. For example, in Sweden, the employment rates of male refugees (ages 20-64) barely reach 40% 1-5 years after arrival (compared to over 70% for male labour migrants) but catch up to 70% 10 years after arrival (compared to over 80% for male labour migrants) – female refugees show similar gaps, if at much lower rates (Bevelander, 2016[15]). In Switzerland, the employment rates 10 years after arrival goes up to a maximum of about 60%, depending on the legal status of humanitarian migrants (KEK-CDC & B,S,S., 2014[8]).5 Low rates of labour market participation and employment for this target group ultimately results in elevated social welfare receipts and possibly political unrest (Evans and Fitzgerald, 2017[16]). The difficulties facing refugees in “catching-up” or advancing to the level of other categories of migrants or the native-born is a major concern in some OECD countries (see Chapter 6).

In comparison to other types of migrants, humanitarian migrants often have weak attachments to their host country, lack information on job opportunities, and may have lived through traumatic experiences, which may hinder informed decision-making (Cedefop, 2017[17]). Typically, most of the initial response to the arrival of asylum seekers is geared towards humanitarian help including shelter, health and basic needs. However, following this there is a need to step up support for integrating refugees and those who are likely to stay. VET programmes are effective ways to help connect migrants, and in particular humanitarian migrants, with the labour market, get in touch with the local working culture, develop social networks, and find jobs matching their skills, qualifications and aspirations.

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Figure 1.1. Trends in share of students in VET across OECD countries
Share (%) of upper-secondary students enrolled in vocational programmes, 2005 and 2016
Figure 1.1. Trends in share of students in VET across OECD countries

Note: 1. The figure includes all age groups, which vary across countries. For example, the share of upper-secondary students enrolled in VET in 2016 for 15-19 year-olds was 19% in Australia and Denmark and 48% in Finland, compared to 56%, 41% and 71% for all ages that are presented in this graph. This is because the enrolment rates of adult population over the age 20 in upper-secondary VET are quite high in these countries.

1. 2005 data are based on ISCED-1997 and 2018 data are based on ISCED-2011. Underlined countries have corrected 2005 data according to ISCED-2011. For analysis on the discrepancies in enrolment figures between these data due to reclassification of ISCED, see Cedefop (2018[18]) and endnote 3 of Chapter 1 in this report.

Source: OECD (2018[19]), Education at a Glance 2018: OECD Indicators, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2018-en; and OECD (2006[20]), Education at a Glance 2006: OECD Indicators, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/eag-2006-en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933997664

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Figure 1.2. Many young people came to seek asylum in EU countries between 2014 and 2018 but recognition rates vary
Cumulative sum of asylum seekers among young people (18-34) in selected EU countries and decisions (2014-18)
Figure 1.2. Many young people came to seek asylum in EU countries between 2014 and 2018 but recognition rates vary

Note: “Asylum applicant” means a person having submitted an application for international protection or having been included in such application as a family member during the reference period.6 Only countries that have a cumulative sum of asylum applicants of more than 5 000 are presented.

The “total number of positive decisions” refers to the sum of decisions granting refugee status, subsidiary protection status, authorisation to stay for humanitarian reasons (for countries where applicable) and temporary protection.

Source: Eurostat, (2019[21]), Eurostat (database), https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/data/database, using annual aggregated data (rounded) on asylum applicants [migr_asyappctza], first instance positive decisions on applications [migr_asydcfsta] and final positive decisions on applications [migr_asydcfina] by citizenship and age.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933997683

Poor labour market outcomes for humanitarian migrants are commonplace

Available evidence suggests that poor labour market outcomes for refugees are commonplace, with individuals trapped outside of labour market or in low-skilled employment. The employment rates of refugees are often lower than both the native population and other categories of migrants. For example, in Sweden, the employment rates of male refugees (ages 20-64) barely reach 40% 1-5 years after arrival (compared to over 70% for male labour migrants) but catch up to 70% 10 years after arrival (compared to over 80% for male labour migrants) – female refugees show similar gaps, if at much lower rates (Bevelander, 2016[15]). In Switzerland, the employment rates 10 years after arrival goes up to a maximum of about 60%, depending on the legal status of humanitarian migrants (KEK-CDC & B,S,S., 2014[8]).7 Low rates of labour market participation and employment for this target group ultimately results in elevated social welfare receipts and possibly political unrest (Evans and Fitzgerald, 2017[16]). The difficulties facing refugees in “catching-up” or advancing to the level of other categories of migrants or the native-born is a major concern in some OECD countries (see Chapter 6).

In comparison to other types of migrants, humanitarian migrants often have weak attachments to their host country, lack information on job opportunities, and may have lived through traumatic experiences, which may hinder informed decision-making (Cedefop, 2017[17]). Typically, most of the initial response to the arrival of asylum seekers is geared towards humanitarian help including shelter, health and basic needs. However, following this there is a need to step up support for integrating refugees and those who are likely to stay. VET programmes are effective ways to help connect migrants, and in particular humanitarian migrants, with the labour market, get in touch with the local working culture, develop social networks, and find jobs matching their skills, qualifications and aspirations.

Vocational education and training is a recognised solution in many OECD countries

Several OECD countries would like to increase the speed with which humanitarian migrants catch up to the employment or self-sufficiency rates of other population groups. For example, Switzerland, prompted by cantons and other stakeholders concerned by the risks of failed integration, recently decided to triple its investment aimed at the integration of refugees and temporarily admitted persons. While the country’s general goal for young people is 95% of those under 25 years old to attain an upper-secondary qualification, including migrants by their fifth year of arrival,8 the goal for young refugees and temporarily admitted persons (ages 16-25) is 66% within the Swiss Integration Agenda. For adult refugees and temporarily admitted persons, the goal is 50% to be employed by their seventh year of arrival (Swiss Confederation, 2018[22]) – in 2019 the employment rate of refugees and asylum seekers by their seventh year of arrival is 41%, and that of temporarily admitted persons is nearly 50% (Swiss State Secretariat for Migration, 2019[23]).9 At the heart of this agenda is VET.

Prompt access to effective VET provision will increase the quality of this potential labour force and reduce the time necessary for labour market entry and eventually social integration of humanitarian migrants (OECD, 2018[6]). International evidence shows that upper-secondary VET graduates have better labour market outcomes compared to people without upper-secondary qualifications or graduates of academic upper-secondary education, at least in the short term (Kuczera, 2017[24]). This also holds true for both native and foreign-born populations (Figure 1.3).

VET can also have an impact on quality of employment. Adult refugees often fill lower-skilled and low-wage jobs to support their families, but these jobs may provide few opportunities for professional or economic advancement. In many cases the opportunities provided are dramatically less attractive when compared to the field for which they were trained, or worked previously, or for which they would have trained if given the appropriate VET opportunity.

VET generally facilitates a smooth transition into the labour market among migrant students. In Germany, the added-value of VET graduation is stronger for students with migrant backgrounds than for native students. Adjusting for personal characteristics, the chance of being employed is 2.4 times higher for natives when they hold a vocational diploma compared to those who do not. For students with a migrant background, the odds are 5 times higher (OECD, 2007[25]). The BIBB Transition Survey (Übergangsstudie), conducted in 2006 and 2011, shows that once students with migrant parents have successfully completed VET, they are significantly more likely to continue working in the same firm where they did their apprenticeship (70%) than VET graduates with native-born parents (60%). For those who do not stay at their training company, within two years, around 55% of young people with a migration background have found a job that corresponds to their skill level. The difference with those without a migration background is marginal (Beicht and Walden, 2014[26]). German VET experts also agree strongly that dual VET is the best way for the integration of young refugees – 93% of experts, according to a 2017 survey by the Germany Federal Institute for VET (BIBB) (Ebbinghaus and Gei, 2017[27]).10

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Figure 1.3. Upper-secondary VET graduates show an outstanding employment outcome
Share of employed young people (15-34 years old), by their highest qualification attained, programme orientation and place of birth, 2018
Figure 1.3. Upper-secondary VET graduates show an outstanding employment outcome

Source: Eurostat (2019[28]), EU Labour Force Surveys, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/european-union-labour-force-survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933997816

Work-based learning, such as apprenticeships, is a particularly effective solution

For disadvantaged young people, upper-secondary VET is commonly seen as a vehicle for improving labour market outcomes by making school-to-work transitions easier. This is particularly the case for programmes which involve substantial work-based learning, such as apprenticeships (OECD, 2018[14]). Work-based VET interventions, if designed well, ensure that learners develop skills in demand, allowing them to contribute skilled, productive labour as quickly as possible so minimising the net costs of training incurred by employers. Work-based learning also allows learners to practice and develop language skills in real-world settings and provides significant new opportunities for social interaction with native and other migrant colleagues who can provide advice and support and who may include potential future recruiters.

For governments, work-based VET is a means to share the costs of skill development with employers, through apprenticeships or other types of work-based learning integrated into school-based provision.

Sharing effective good practices across countries may help to strengthening the effort

Since 2015, there have been multitudinous policy practices across OECD aimed at better enabling migrant progression through VET. Activity has been at a national, regional and local level, driven by governments (at difference levels), not-for-profit and private enterprises. Much, perhaps most, of new provision has not been formally evaluated, but some programmes have. Others have demonstrated local success in the eyes of participants and stakeholders. It is timely therefore to take stock of activity notably across four key countries to share experiences.

For example, Switzerland’s major investment into migrant integration is being channelled to VET with the main goal of raising the employment rates of refugees and temporarily admitted persons (Swiss Confederation, 2018[22]). Switzerland has recently launched a pre-apprenticeship programme to make apprenticeships more accessible for newly arrived youth. Germany is also making strong efforts towards refugee integration through VET through support measures (before and during VET for both migrant and non-migrant learners), with a focus on those who face particularly high barriers that are preventing their successful completion of VET qualifications (Bergseng, Degler and Lüthi, 2019[1]).

Sweden is implementing a number of VET-related instruments to maximise the potential of migrants including Vocational Packages in the upper-secondary transitional programmes and adult education programmes – mainly but not exclusively targeting newly arrived migrants – and an approach that effectively combines language and vocational training (Kuczera and Jeon, 2019[2]). Italy has committed to strengthening work-based VET (OECD, 2017[29]), which is employed to better integrate young humanitarian migrants in numerous EU-funded projects.

This study argues that governments are right to maintain or strengthening such approaches – many countries face significant long-term skills shortages, which can be addressed by making VET systems responsive to a broader range of learners, including recently arrived humanitarian migrants.

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Box 1.3. Key OECD studies on VET and work-based learning

The OECD project Learning for Jobs (OECD, 2010[13]), a synthesis report of country reviews of upper-secondary VET systems, brought VET into policy discussions after having been neglected and marginalised. A following OECD project Skills Beyond School (OECD, 2014[30]) revealed the hidden world of professional education and training at the post-secondary VET, often called higher VET.

The most recent OECD work on work-based learning (WBL) was through Seven Questions about Apprenticeships (OECD, 2018[14]). In this project, structured WBL schemes are defined as ones that combine learning in workplaces with off-the-job learning (e.g. in schools or colleges) and lead to recognised qualifications. In most countries, such schemes are called apprenticeships or dual VET, but other terms (e.g. traineeships) are also used.

In the present report, WBL covers a broader range of schemes including ones that may not lead to recognised qualifications such as traineeships with or without (formal) off-the-job learning and pre-apprenticeships. This is due to the fact that migrants, in particular humanitarian migrants, have difficulties in accessing to regular VET programmes and in many cases rely on non-formal or informal VET in many cases.

copy the linklink copied!Opportunities and challenges facing VET systems as a result of high inflows of humanitarian migrants

Investing in VET for migrants and refugees in general is a strategic response…

…to an ageing population

A number of OECD countries are currently facing and will continue to face an ageing problem. In OECD countries, the old-age dependency ratio – a ratio of the total population aged 65+ per 100 people to those aged 20-64 – is forecast to reach almost 40% by 2035 at the current pace (Figure 1.4). Without migration, this ratio goes up to 46%, suggesting that migrant skills are a key factor to manage national skills – in particular for Italy, Japan and Germany whose ratios are forecast to reach over 60%. At the same time, out of all asylum seekrs, the share of young people aged 18-34 has been consistently over 40% in European countries. Germany’s population is projected to decrease even with a significant influx of new arrivals (German Federal Statistical Office, 2015[31]), highlighting the need to take advantage of opportunities presented by recent arrivals. From another perspective, in the United States, according to New American Economy (2017), 77% of refugees are of working age (ages 25 to 64), compared to 50% of the native-born population and 72% of non-refugee immigrants (Bernstein and DuBois, 2018[32]).

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Figure 1.4. Many OECD countries face and will face an ageing population
Old dependency ratio of population aged 65+ per 100 people aged 20-64 in 2015 and 2035 by scenarios
Figure 1.4. Many OECD countries face and will face an ageing population

Source: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division, (2017[33]), World Population Prospects 2017https://population.un.org/wpp/DVD/Files/1_Indicators%20(Standard)/EXCEL_FILES/1_Population/WPP2017_POP_F13_B_OLD_AGE_DEPENDENCY_RATIO_2064.xlsx.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933997702

…to skills shortages

Countries are also facing and will continue to face severe skills shortages. In fact, the general challenge is intensifying for VET systems in ensuring that VET is attractive to sufficient numbers of young people. For example, Sweden lacks vocational upper-secondary graduates due largely to falling enrolment rates in VET as well as increasing labour market demand due to an ageing population (Kuczera and Jeon, 2019[2]). Germany is also in a similar situation: according to one study, by 2040 a shortage of 3.9 million workers is expected, consisting of 2.7 million workers with VET qualifications compared to 1.2 million for university graduates (VBW, 2016[34]). The country is already, and increasingly, facing shortage of demand in apprenticeship positions with a third of apprenticeships being unfilled between 2013 (29%) and 2017 (34%), according to an employer survey by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK, 2018[35]).11

Providing VET for migrants and refugees is worthwhile

Investment in VET for migrants can be worthwhile for many countries, in particular countries facing population decline or an aging population. As refugees are more likely to be of working age than other population groups, providing VET for refugees can be particularly helpful. Several countries recognise the skill potential that refugees and asylum seekers bring with them. Among OECD countries that are experiencing decrease in the share of VET students in the upper-secondary level, Germany and Sweden saw the largest decreases (Figure 1.1). In Germany, the absolute enrolment figures in upper-secondary VET also fell since 2010. In this context, according to a 2017 survey by the German Federal Institute for VET (BIBB), about 80% of VET experts in Germany agree that providing dual VET for young refugees is indispensable for securing the new generation of skilled workers (Ebbinghaus and Gei, 2017[27]). Sweden is also in a similar situation in terms of a shortage of VET graduates, although there was a slight increase in 2017. For example, the health and social care sector is trying to actively attract newly arrived migrants and refugees through modularised VET programmes (Kuczera and Jeon, 2019[2]). Switzerland launched a pre-apprenticeship in 2018 aimed at refugees and temporarily admitted persons to prepare for regular VET in sectors where skills shortage have been identified. Such efforts are mirrored in the United States, where 20% of refugees were working in the manufacturing sector and 14% in health care in 2015 – both sectors face skills shortages.

Significant new investment is available for improving VET systems

Considerable funding has been allocated to humanitarian migrant integration through VET in some countries

In the context of a high influx of humanitarian migrants, governments have tended to allocate more funding for refugee integration – earmarked or not. A major part of this funding is often channelled into VET and subsequent labour market integration measures, given that many refugees are at working-age and low-educated and many stakeholders (as seen for Germany (Ebbinghaus and Gei, 2017[27])) consider that VET is the most effective way to integrate this population.

For example, Switzerland increased federal funding from CHF 6 000 to 18 000 per refugee and temporarily admitted person under the 2018 Integration Agenda, which is tied to different targets, including educational needs (Koordinationsgruppe Integrationsagenda, 2018[36]). The Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture subsidised VET for migrants by EUR 20 million in 2017: 44 education providers received EUR 18.8 million and apprenticeship training received some of the remainder (Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, 2017[37]). Denmark also intensified its integration programme and Danish language courses that facilitate the labour market integration of refugees and migrants by allocating a budget of DKK 6.5 billion (EUR 870 million) in 2016 in comparison to the 2013 budget DKK 2.0 billion (EUR 270 million) (Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration, 2016[38]). The federal government of Canada announced the Pre-Apprenticeship Programme which will provide CAD 46 million (EUR 31 million) over five years (2018-23) and focus on supporting those that are disadvantaged in the trades, such as women, youth, Indigenous Peoples, and people with disabilities as well as new comers (OECD, 2018[39]).

VET providers and employers can take advantage of this situation to review, evaluate, expand and improve VET programmes to be more inclusive with quality, benefiting from different forms of funding that are available for VET for humanitarian migrants.

The diversity among VET students has increased

Migrants are a diverse group (OECD, 2018[40]; OECD, 2018[41]). The degree of diversity is defined by factors including the range of cultures, languages and other characteristics of young migrants, as well as the number of years they have been in the host country, their pathways both to the host country and once residing in the country, and the level of community and family support they receive when they are living in the country (Roberts, 2014[42]).

The diversity among VET students has increased over the past decade. Evidence from countries with available data shows that the diversity of the VET student population has grown in recent years, a trend which can be explained to some degree by the recent increase in young refugees and asylum seekers and the consequently increased share of migrant entrants into VET systems (Figure 1.5), which will be discussed further in Chapter 4.

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Figure 1.5. The share of migrant entrants into VET has increased in recent years
Figure 1.5. The share of migrant entrants into VET has increased in recent years

Note: For Germany, the share refers to new apprenticeship contracts; foreign nationals include persons with only foreign nationality and refugees include persons from asylum countries (i.e. nationals from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and the Syrian Arab Republic).

Source: Germany from BIBB (2018[43]), Datensystem Auszubildende (DAZUBI) Zusatztabellen. Ausländische Auszubildende in der dualen Berufsausbildung - nach einzelnen Nationalitäten, Deutschland 2008 bis 2017. Ergebnisse auf Basis der Berufsbildungsstatistik, Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, Bonn, https://www.bibb.de/de/1868.php. Switzerland from Swiss Federal Statistics Office (2019[44]), Federal Statistics Office, https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home/statistics/catalogues-databases.html. The Netherlands from Statistics Netherlands (2019[45]), MBO; participants, level, learning pathway, migration background, https://data.overheid.nl/dataset/53971-mbo--deelnemers--niveau--leerweg--migratieachtergrond. Sweden from the Ministry of Education in Kuczera, M. and S. Jeon, (2019[2]), Vocational Education and Training in Sweden, OECD Reviews of Vocational Education and Training, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/g2g9fac5-en. Denmark from Student Register, Statistics Denmark (2019[46]), http://dst.dk/ext/uddannelse/Uddannelsestabeller.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933997721

Out of 18 EU countries that have available data, at least 11 countries saw an increase in the share of migrant students aged 15-34 in upper-secondary VET between 2015-16 and 2017-18 (Panel A, Figure 1.6). Out of 21 EU countries that have available data, at least 15 countries saw an increase in the share of young people of the same age group whose highest qualification was upper-secondary VET (Panel B, Figure 1.6; see Annex A for 2009 data).

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Figure 1.6. Many EU countries saw an increase in the share of migrant students in VET in recent years
Share of migrant students in upper-secondary VET and migrant upper-secondary VET graduates as highest qualification (population aged 15-34)
Figure 1.6. Many EU countries saw an increase in the share of migrant students in VET in recent years

Source: Eurostat (2019[28]), EU Labour Force Survey, https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/microdata/european-union-labour-force-survey.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933997740

The share of migrants among younger students also grew (Figure 1.7), and it can be expected that this increased share will in turn affect the make-up of upper-secondary VET students. According to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the share of students with a migrant background has increased across the OECD countries (OECD, 2016[47]; OECD, 2014[48]). Almost three quarters of OECD countries saw an increase in the share of foreign-born students aged 15 between 2006 and 2015, with the OECD average rising from 4.4% in 2006 to 5.4% in 2015. Ireland, the United Kingdom and Luxembourg saw much higher increases of about five percentage-points over this period. It is reasonable to expect that an increasing share of migrant students in the lower-secondary education system will in turn affect the make-up of VET students.

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Figure 1.7. The share of young migrants has increased in most OECD countries
Percentage of 15-year-old foreign-born students and the change between 2006 and 2015, PISA data
Figure 1.7. The share of young migrants has increased in most OECD countries

Note: Only countries where the percentage of foreign-born students is higher than 1% in 2015 are shown. Results for Germany should be interpreted with caution due to missing rates on the student migrant background.

Source: Table I.7.1 in OECD, (2016[47]), PISA 2015 Results (Volume I): Excellence and Equity in Education, https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264266490-en.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933997759

copy the linklink copied!Main messages and structure of this study

Lessons can be learned from the range of approaches that have emerged for improving VET systems

It does not appear that the record number of humanitarian migrants who recently arrived in OECD countries has resulted in a major change in upper-secondary VET systems. Reviewing the practices that have been in place since 2014 suggests that much of the provision serving recently arrived humanitarian migrants is based on, linked to or nested within existing VET provision serving the general population – rather than being fundamental changes to VET systems themselves. This is mainly because many young recent arrivals are funnelled into preparatory programmes with the aim of ultimately being integrated into mainstream provision. However, several OECD countries have crafted new approaches and programmes at small scale or as pilots in existing transitional programmes that are connected to VET.

In response in part to the massive number of young humanitarian migrants that Germany, and to a lesser extent Italy, received in a short period of time (Figure 1.2), myriad VET-related programmes and approaches to migrant integration have emerged both from national and regional governments.12 This rapid growth in programmes went hand in hand with efforts under the European Social Fund that have catalysed the initial phase of many projects (Box 1.4). In both of these countries, regional governments are responsible for providing VET and the integration of migrants and so in some cases, duplication and inefficiencies have emerged between efforts at national and regional levels. In the future, this could be avoided through greater co-ordination in terms of strategic planning.

Sweden has also introduced several new measures, increased flexibility in the VET system and consolidated existing measures that facilitate the early entry of newly arrived to the labour market through VET (Kuczera and Jeon, 2019[2]). For Switzerland, while the country already has a relatively shorter and less demanding VET programme (2-year EBA) that facilitates the entry of weaker learners, including the newly arrived into mainstream VET, it took an additional step by launching pre-apprenticeship programmes for young refugees and temporarily admitted persons. This new national initiative in 2018 consists of a more organised and expanded nation-wide approach. It directly targets young refugees and temporarily admitted persons who have work experience in order to maximise their potential and to facilitate their entry into the regular VET system.

The lessons learned from these experiences can be valuable as countries seek to strengthen VET systems, to address barriers facing migrant and refugee students, and make them more inclusive and flexible in the face of more diverse populations with different characteristics and needs.

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Box 1.4. The role of European Social Fund in offering VET for humanitarian migrants in EU countries

The European Social Fund (ESF) is one of the main instruments for European Union to progress the goals set by the Europe 2020 strategy. Vocational education and training (VET) is one of the core elements in achieving these goals, connecting employment, education and inclusive growth. The ESF promotes VET to boost the adaptability of workers with new skills, improve access to employment including smooth school-to-work transition and help people from disadvantaged groups to get jobs.

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Figure 1.8. The number of migrant participants in VET programmes financed by ESF, 2015-17
Figure 1.8. The number of migrant participants in VET programmes financed by ESF, 2015-17

Figure note: The target group includes migrants, participants with a foreign background, minorities (including marginalised communities such as the Roma).

Figure source: ESF Database from European Commission (2019[49]), https://cohesiondata.ec.europa.eu/2014-2020/ESIF-2014-2020-Achievement-Details/aesb-873i

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933997778

The ESF supports asylum seekers and refugees for VET actions when allowed by the national legislation. The ESF finances various local, regional and national projects. For instance, Germany uses joint funding through the ESF to provide financial support for early outreach programmes for asylum seekers and, until 2016, to help finance vocational language courses. Italy has implemented various ESF-funded projects to facilitate the transition of young migrants to the labour market through traineeships and other types of VET support, for example projects FORWORK, INSIDE, PERCORSI, Coordinamento Nazionale Nuove Generazioni Italiane, Programma integra. Spain has drawn on ESF support to finance a large programme comprising assessment, recognition and validation of refugee skills, guidance and VET provision.

Source: European Commission (2015[50]), Background note: Support to Asylum Seekers Under the European Social Fund and the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, http://ec.europa.eu/esf/BlobServlet?docId=14499&langId=en. Cedefop, (2017[17]), Vocational Education and Training: Bridging Refugee and Employer Needs: Results of a 2016 Cedefop-OECD Survey on Integration through Skilling and Qualification, http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/files/9120_en.pdf.

What a successful integration through VET might look like

The ultimate goal of migrant and refugee integration is a rapid transition to economic self-sufficiency, and VET can play a crucial role in achieving. On average, VET graduates, in particular apprenticeship graduates, have better outcomes in terms of employment and earnings than comparable peers. They are less likely to be unemployed than those who have not completed upper-secondary education, and have similar chances of being employed as those who graduated from post-secondary programmes (Kuczera, 2017[24]). Apprenticeship graduates earn more on average than similar adults with education below an upper-secondary level, and more than those who graduated from academic upper-secondary education and have no higher qualification (Kuczera, 2017[24]). In addition, one of the reasons why unlocking migrant skills through VET is a desirable policy objective is because VET mobilises private capital through employers to integrate humanitarian migrants. That is, because of the nature of work-based VET, which relies both on public and private funding and benefits firms and productivity (OECD, 2018[14]), VET is an economic way to realise migrant integration.

However, achieving this goal does not come without challenges. Young migrants and refugees are often unfamiliar with, or have a poor opinion, of VET. In general, they have weak language and basic academic skills and lack country-specific knowledge and understanding. Due in part to these shortcomings, the existing requirements for the entry to mainstream upper-secondary VET – either formal or informal requirements – are often unattainable within a short period time for newly arrived migrants. This is particularly the case as they are often dealing with other barriers at the same time. Finally, once they have entered a programme, migrant students are less successful in completing upper-secondary VET. Dropouts from work-based programmes are particularly problematic because both apprentices and employers tend to recoup the bulk of their investment towards the end of programmes. Dropping out before this return on investment is realised may make employers more reluctant to take on apprentices with migrant backgrounds.

Therefore, countries may benefit from young migrants and refugees who are better informed about VET opportunities. Such information can prepare them more strongly for upper-secondary VET in terms of skills and knowledge, enable easier access to upper-secondary VET and actively support them during VET. Ultimately, such actions require building strong, flexible and inclusive VET systems that work not only for young migrants, but also for other disadvantaged and vulnerable groups (see summary of key messages and advice in Box 1.5). This means that countries may need to take different approaches to the systemic design and delivery of the VET system as well as long-term national strategies that set effective and efficient co-ordination and peer-learning mechanisms across relevant stakeholders, in particular social partners. Programmes that can last over the long term and be compatible and closely connected to existing programmes are more sustainable and efficient, and easier to evaluate, compared to operating short-term, temporary programmes. While it is a valid concern that changes to VET systems may result in confusion and cost, appropriate adjustment for disadvantaged groups including migrants and refugees would ultimately result in a more flexible and inclusive VET system for the benefit of all.

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Box 1.5. Summary of key messages: General recommendations for countries

Inform young migrants and refugees about the VET opportunities

  • Collect, or build a capacity for collecting, demographic and skills profiles of young migrants and refugees to assess their needs and to better match their profiles with VET programmes.

  • Monitor learning progress and particular needs of young migrants and refugees entering and already in the VET system, and evaluate effectiveness of policy interventions.

  • Proactively provide career guidance and mentoring services, with personalised approaches, including in the migrants’ native languages.

Better prepare young migrants and refugees for upper-secondary VET, including apprenticeships

  • Provide targeted, high quality preparatory programmes for young migrants and refugees to build basic skills and train in the host-country language, allowing them to build social networks and familiarity with the host-country education system and the labour market.

  • Accelerate the learning process of young migrants and refugees through proven approaches such as combining language and vocational training.

  • Prepare the teaching workforce and reinforce their quality to cope with increasing student diversity including strengthened training for teaching in a multicultural or multilingual setting. Provide targeted and additional training for other relevant workers such as career counsellors, skills assessors, case managers, social workers and volunteers.

Enable easier access for young migrants and refugees to upper-secondary VET

  • Reduce entry barriers by offering flexible models of VET provision, such as modular, shorter or longer programmes, and by allowing legal flexibility for young migrants and refugees to enter into and complete upper-secondary VET.

  • Better match young migrants and refugees to VET opportunities by considering VET and labour market needs and geographical mismatches, while avoiding the concentration of vulnerable young migrants including refugees and asylum seekers in disadvantaged schools.

  • Promote intermediary bodies and mechanisms to help build networks and contacts between young migrants and local employers.

Support young migrants and refugees to complete upper-secondary VET

  • Support young migrants and refugees during VET to address weaker academic proficiency or relevant skills. Ensure a good learning experience in VET schools through mentors, coaches and other support mechanisms.

  • Strengthen support in workplaces during work-based learning both for migrant VET learners, including apprentices, and employers.

  • Increase productive connections and interactions between VET schools and training companies.

Build strong, flexible and inclusive VET systems that works for all

  • Build a flexible and permeable VET system and programmes, and if needed make adaptions to do so, to build seamless pathways for migrants and refugees between preparatory programmes, upper-secondary VET and adult VET.

  • Build long-term national strategies to enhance a whole-of-government approach to VET management for migrants and refugees, considering that integration takes time. Set up measurable goals and conduct monitoring and evaluation in terms of progression.

  • Actively involve and co-ordinate relevant stakeholders in the design of the VET system and programmes as well as in the delivery of VET programmes and support services. Engage social partners throughout the integration process through VET. Promote peer learning across all levels of government as well as with other stakeholders.

Structure of this study: Following the journey of migrants and VET systems

Within this context, this report focuses on four of the main channels through which migrants integrate into VET and the labour market (Figure 1.9): getting informed about VET (Chapter 2), getting ready for VET (Chapter 3), getting into VET (Chapter 4) and getting on within VET (Chapter 5).

Chapter 1 provides an overview of the report and describes the context of VET as a mechanism for the integration of humanitarian migrants. Chapters 2-5 address challenges and policy responses in relation to both young humanitarian migrants and host country institutions. While migrants should be informed about and ready to take VET opportunities, host countries also need to get informed about the potential of these migrants in regard to VET and prepare not only migrants but also VET institutions, supporting systems and relevant actors. Chapter 6 discusses broader issues related to the governance of VET systems that work for humanitarian migrants.

Methodology

This study followed a four-stage methodology and related sources:

  • An international workshop was held in Bremen, Germany (March 2018) as part of the project. The workshop gathered about 30 international experts in the field and provided an opportunity to discuss Germany’s practices within an international context.

  • An OECD questionnaire was circulated in 2018 among the OECD Group of National Experts on Vocational Education and Training. Sixteen countries responded to the questionnaire. These responses formed the basis for the desk-based analytical work as well as the preparation for the study visits.

  • Study visits were conducted in four countries. Visits to Germany and Sweden were undertaken as part of the reviews of VET in each of these countries. Visits to Italy and Switzerland were conducted separately and respective country notes were produced.

  • Desk-based analytical work reviewing policy and practice across OECD countries on the basis of available evidence, including cross-national data sources, academic literature and relevant activities within the OECD and other international organisations. The analytical work was also built upon insights from earlier OECD work on VET and work-based learning (Box 1.3) and on migration, integration and education (including “Finding the Way”, “Working Together” and “Strength through Diversity”).

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Figure 1.9. Structure of the study
Figure 1.9. Structure of the study

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Notes

← 1. European countries received 4 million applications, and about 1.6 million individuals were granted some form of protection in first instance – asylum under the Geneva Convention, subsidiary or temporary protection, including 780 000 Syrians (OECD, 2018[6]).

← 2. EU-28 countries, Norway and Switzerland (OECD, 2018[6]).

← 3. The discrepancy of the 2005 data between ISCED-97 and ISCED-11 in terms of VET enrolments was less than 2 percentage points (pp) for 15 European countries that have available data. Among these countries, the share of enrolments in ISCED-11 was higher than that in ISCED-97 more than 30 pp in Italy. Reportedly, majority of pre-vocational programmes within ISCED-97 are classified as vocational programmes within ISCED-11 in Italy and this contributes to the increase in the data using ISCED-11 (Cedefop, 2018[18]).

For ISCED-97 data, see “Participation and enrolment in education by sex, students at ISCED level 3-vocational as % of all students at ISCED level 3” [educ_ipart_s]. For the corrected ISCED-11 data, see “Pupils enrolled in upper secondary education by programme orientation, sex, type of institution and intensity of participation” [educ_uoe_enrs04] (Eurostat, 2019[21]).

← 4. Up to December 2017, observed data on asylum applications and decisions are used (OECD, 2018[6]).

← 5. This case is called ‘hardship cases’ who is granted a permit B depending on financial-, family- and integration-criteria. ‘Hardship cases’ have higher employment rates, mainly due to the selection: employed migrants are more likely to be accepted as hardship case, thus their employment rate is higher by definition.

← 6. ‘Application for international protection’ means an application for international protection as defined in Art.2(h) of Directive 2011/95/EU, i.e. a request made by a third-country national or a stateless person for protection from a Member State. This definition is intended to refer to all who apply for protection on an individual basis, irrespective of whether they lodge their application on arrival at the airport or land border, or from inside the country, and irrespective of whether they entered the territory legally or illegally (see Art4.1 (a) of the Regulation).

Applications submitted by persons who are subsequently found to be a subject of a Dublin procedure (Regulation (EU) No 604/2013) are included in the number of asylum applications. Persons who are transferred to another Member State in application of the Dublin Regulation are reported as asylum applicants also in the Member State where they are transferred to.

← 7. This case is called ‘hardship cases’ who is granted a permit B depending on financial-, family- and integration-criteria. ‘Hardship cases’ have higher employment rates, mainly due to the selection: employed migrants are more likely to be accepted as hardship case, thus their employment rate is higher by definition.

← 8. It is almost reached for native-born population while it is 73% for foreign-born migrants (SKBF-CSRE, 2018[51]).

← 9. The goal is that seven years after arrival in Switzerland, 50% of refugees and temporarily admitted persons will be sustainably integrated in the labour market, and for those who meet a sufficient employability level, two third are sustainably integrated five years after arrival in Switzerland.

In 2019, the employment rate of refugees who stayed in the country more than 7 years is 51% while that of temporarily admitted persons is 45% (lower than the seventh year) (Swiss State Secretariat for Migration, 2019[23]).

← 10. Labour shortages may have contributed to relatively high retention and transition rates of migrant students as they are overrepresented in VET occupations with shortages (Bergseng, Degler and Lüthi, 2019[1]).

← 11. National estimation revealed that the number entering university studies is 40% larger compared to ten years ago whilst 7% fewer young people apply to an apprenticeship (Zimmermann, 2016[52]).

← 12. For a discussion of the labour market integration of refugees in Germany, see also (Degler and Liebig, 2017[53]).

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1. Overview: Unlocking the potential of migrants through vocational education and training