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Countries across Europe have welcomed a significant number of migrants, and in particular young humanitarian migrants, over the last five years. This rapid influx has raised questions as to how these countries can best integrate these young migrants and their families into their countries, many of whom are desperate to improve their quality of life in their new homes. Education and training, and resulting labour market opportunities, are crucial to realising these aspirations.

Vocational education training (VET) in particular is a proven and effective tool for transitioning from school to work – and its benefits are even greater for disadvantaged youth. But while VET has been fundamental in the integration of many new arrivals to date, in many cases it has been used sporadically or unsystematically. In addition, due to limited resources and differences in culture, language and skills system, young migrants are often unaware of the VET opportunities available. In the cases where they are aware, many struggle to access the right programmes and lack employer connections.

This report focuses on this untapped potential of using VET as a tool to speed-up and enhance the integration of young migrants in the host country. Realising this potential will require strategies that, rather than making small piecemeal adjustments, aim to re-engineer VET systems for the long-term.

Some OECD countries are at the forefront of innovative approaches to VET and preparatory programmes aimed at migrants and refugees. This report highlights some of these effective and innovative practices, while accounting for individual country circumstances. Just as one of the main recommendations of this report is support for peer-learning and exchange of approaches to common challenges, the hope is that this report presents a learning opportunity for communities, VET institutions, local authorities and governments as well as volunteers and staff that work with humanitarian migrants.

The structure of the report follows the path that a migrant might take, from learning about the opportunities presented by VET, to gaining access to VET systems, to realising their full potential through tailored programmes and work placements. In parallel, the report explores the challenges and opportunities faced by stakeholders along the same path, including government, education providers, and employers.

Ultimately, the key message is that building strong, flexible and inclusive VET systems where migrants and refugees can succeed results in broad benefits – not just for migrants, but also for the wider group of students with disadvantaged backgrounds.

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© OECD 2019

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