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Developing an Entrepreneurial Mindset: A guide for working with highly skilled migrants

This guide brings together learning from the Erasmus Plus funded Migrapreneurs project to highlight the challenges which Highly Skilled Migrants (those with at least a degree or equivalent qualification) face when accessing VET and suggest some best practices and recommendations to improve how we work with this target group.

The Migrapreneurs project has worked over 3 years to better understand the challenges which Highly Skilled Migrants face in gaining employment which matches their skill level and has developed a new training programme, specifically aimed at the group, to help them overcome these challenges through the development of entrepreneurial projects or by becoming more ‘intrapreneurial’ in order to improve their employability.

The project will be coming to an end in the summer of 2019 and this guide has been produced, using the learning gained during the funded period, as a way of passing on our findings to others working in the field. It is specifically aimed at policy makers and those working in VET and who wish to improve the current training offers for migrants in these topics.

Highly skilled migrant workers in Europe are more likely to experience over-qualification where their level of education is higher than the job they are doing in their new country, than native individuals. By allowing highly skilled migrants to perform in low-skilled jobs, hosting countries are missing out on performance, innovation and business benefits. Skill mismatch also contributes to unemployment and reduces productivity and competitiveness.

In order to tackle this difficulty, the European Commission has been promoting entrepreneurship as one of the key competences that can boost competitiveness and growth within the Union. The Migrapreneurs project therefore aimed to promote the potential of highly skilled migrants to contribute to European economies and to help migrants themselves develop a more entrepreneurial and/or intrapreneurial mindset.

Within this report, policy makers and VET providers can find out more about the key challenges migrants face when accessing training linked to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship training which is currently available is usually open to anyone and not tailored specifically to migrants who start at a disadvantage as they have less working knowledge of business set up processes and legalities in their new country and, crucially, less access to networks who can support them. Migrants state that they need more support than is currently offered to understand where to go for help when setting up a business and they are often unaware of training opportunities. Key barriers to accessing VET are, of course language barriers and they also face issues around the validation of their past qualifications and recognition of the skills they have brought with them.

The report also suggests some best practices for working with migrants, for example the use of social media tools like What’s App to connect and gain support from individuals in similar situations and providing training on building networks and presenting their business ideas. We also explore using an ‘androgogic’ approach as opposed to a ‘pedagogic’ approach to adult learning, within which facilitators recognise, appreciate and build upon the participants own knowledge and experience, involving them directly in their learning rather than ‘talking at them’ and imparting knowledge in a ‘top down’ way. 

Our key recommendations for policy makers and VET providers are:

  • To develop specifically targeted training and support programmes for entrepreneurship, which take into account the specific needs of migrants (i.e. language support, knowledge of business cultures, buil­ding networks etc.)
  • Develop the way that new and current VET programmes are promoted to migrants (especially those who are ‘hard to reach’)
  • Explore the process of validation to ensure that the qualifications, knowledge and experiences of Highly Skilled Migrants can be reco­gnised
  • Develop ways to showcase the important and positive contributions that migrants can, and do, make to our society each day.

Please click here to display the whole guide.

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