Blank slates or hidden treasure? Assessing and building on the experiential learning of migrant and refugee women in European countries
Commonly, the work situation of migrant and refugee women declines notably on arriving in the new country, irrespective of their existing qualifications and even after they have taken accepted qualifications. The primary objectives of this research were to test the hypothesis that women bring to their new countries skills and competencies arising from their education, working life and experiential learning, in addition to those learnt in the process of adapting to a new way of life, such as communicative and intercultural competencies, and to develop a typology which would facilitate access to appropriate education and training. This process also, crucially, involves vocational guidance and counselling to ensure that women develop goals which are both realistic and desirable to them. To this end an interview schedule was developed and delivered, after adaptations to local circumstances, to 120 women in four countries: Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic and the UK. This paper presents only the detailed findings from the UK research. The main value of the data gathered is qualitative and the samples used were non-random, but certain patterns emerged which are described in this paper. It was concluded that education and training were usually necessary in the new country but that a much more considered approach needs to be taken to placement on courses. The paper concludes with recommendations for practice by institutions of further education and case studies to illuminate the findings. Four case studies are attached.
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