Hefboom developed a mentoring to work model to support low qualified refugees in transitioning from short term employment in Work Integration Social Economy (WISE) to sustainable employment in the regular economy (NEC).
Mentoring to work is often seen as a critical success factor for the integration of refugees in the labour market, in addition to generic key elements (language immersion, individual integration plans, recognition of diplomas).
Most mentoring to work programmes have high qualified or skilled refugees or persons with a migration background as a target group. However, two out of three refugees entering Europe in 2016 were low qualified.
Hence, we questioned the relevance of developing a mentoring to work programme for lower qualified refugees with a distance to the labour market and how this might look like. We studied several mentoring to work programmes for lower qualified persons (with migration background) or for young people living in deprived neighbourhoods.
In Flanders, the public social services often used the measure of 'temporary work experience' (art. 60) in combination with employment in WISE for people with a huge distance to the labour market. This was one step to support lower qualified refugees in their journey towards the labour market and build social rights. In an ideal scenario, when employment in WISE is successful employment in normal economy follows. However, the practice seems to be different. The mentoring model we developed has the aim to help bridge this gap.
The model is developed with lower qualified refugees as a target group. However, study of several programmes and the interviews we had with representatives of WISE convinced us that the model and its core elements is relevant for a wider group of people with a distance to the labour market.