Barriers and challenges

This section describes the challenges detected by partners such as the barriers that migrants may face for engaging in training schemes. It also enlights some remaining questions for which improvement is needed or solutions are pending at various levels, national or regional or at the practitionners level.


1. Barriers for engaging in learning schemes

1.1 Lack of mastering of the country language

Most of the time the information on courses is done on the country language. Migrants may have not a full understanding of this information. Regarding the participation to vocational courses, they may also feel that they will have difficulties to understand the content delivered.

1.2 Involvement in the family life

Migrants sometimes have to face priorities like taking care of their sons or grandsons or parents. There can be a lack of existing support (absence of kinder garden for example) or a lack of information/understanding on the existing serivces. Migrants may also be isolated and lack enlarged family support or community support.

1.3 Representation of training

Migrants may feel that training is not for them. They may feel outside of the formal training institutions, not aware of the rules that apply.

Training may be seen as too theoretical and far from previous experience and/or expectations that are linked to concrete practice. 

A good analysis of cultural obstacles to learning has been done by Gilles Verbunt in Les obstacles culturels aux apprentissages, 1994, Guide des intervenants CNDP, Paris. (A synthesis is available here - in French)

1.4 Illiteracy

Eventhough newcomers tend to have now an education level equivalent or higher to the average of the welcoming country, some refugees, in particular, may be in situation of illiteracy and not be able to participate to the mainstream offer of vocational training.

1.5 Cultural and religious barriers

Some people are reluctant to be in a mixed male-female environment. We have also the experience of men refusing that their wife participates in a mixed course or with a male trainer. It may sound strange, but it happens. 


1.6 Accessibility of the training center

Migrants living in rural areas may have difficulties to travel to the training center, because of lack of public transports and/or because they are dependant from their husband/parents to be driven.


2. Challenges for the future

2.1 Challenges at policy level (national of regional)

  • Finance vocational training but also theoretical education as soon as possible after coming to their new country.
  • Develop test centres in the countries that do not offer such possibilities or a shortened form of education to adapt and complete foreign knowledge to the labour market demands in the migrants’ new countries.
  • To motivate and incentivize migrants to go into education, it is important to establish methods at a European level and to harmonize them so that migrants can easily benefit from training possibilities whatever the country they choose to go.
  • Include traditional European values like respect for human dignity and rights, freedom, democracy, equality and rule of law in countries where such values are not included in compulsory programs for newcomers.
  • Open and finance formal training possibilities for illegal immigrants.
  • Finance the validation of prior knowledge for newcomers.
  • Finance information actions in specific places to inform migrants about training possibilities (open markets, supermarkets, social housing, companies...).

2.2 Challenges for training organisations and associations working in contact with migrants

  • Elaborate tools and methods for validation of earlier experiences of the migrants. 
  • Develop cooperation with companies, in particular to organise practice periods for migrants (and link them with language learning).
  • Use a variety of methods.
  • Adapt the pedagogy to adults with different education and sometimes many years of skills and work experiences from other countries.
  • Develop the alternance of theory and practice. Too often the language teaching is done within a classroom without "going outside".
  • Use the help of migrants who have benefited from training courses as positive examples to inform and recruit migrants in training programs.
  • Provide information sessions in specific places (open markets, supermarkets, social housing...) so that migrants are aware about training possibilities.
  • Open the training centers outside of the usual daily hours (evening, night and week-ends) so that all migrants can benefit from training actions.
  • Train all their staff, including the administrative staff and the vocational trainers, so that they can act professionnaly with migrants (taking into account their possible difficulty with the language, their adaptation to a new environment, the cultural and social differences, their previous experience, their migration history...). Not only the language teachers have to be aware about the needs and caracteristics of migrants.