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Connections: A project to prepare asylum seekers and refugees for work

By Marc Piron, Association de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés, Luxembourg

Entering the job market in Luxembourg as an asylum seeker can be challenging. This article presents the “Connections” programme, which helps prepare asylum seekers and refugees to enter the job market in Luxembourg through a series of stages.

Access to the labour market in Luxembourg for applicants for international protection is very limited. Only a measure called AOT (temporary occupation authorisation) allows them, six months after submitting their asylum application and under very limited conditions, to access the labour market. As the asylum application process can sometimes last for a very long time, asylum seekers are often poorly prepared for the Luxembourgish labour market once they have received their international protection status.

The project aims to build bridges between asylum seekers/refugees and the world of work in Luxembourg

For this reason, ASTI (Association de soutien aux travailleurs immigrés a.s.b.l.) has set up the “Connections” project. The project which is developed with the financial support of Oeuvre Nationale de Secours Grande-Duchesse Charlotte, aims to prepare refugees to enter the labour market of Luxembourg. Tthe project aimsto build bridges between asylum seekers/refugees and the world of work in Luxembourg, to raise awareness of life in our society and our working culture and to prepare newcomers for their professional integration in the labour market.

On the basis of an assessment of skills and career path, participants have the opportunity to go through three steps:

1) 14 Information sessions about the history and composition of Luxembourg, asylum law and Guaranteed minimum income, family reunification, social assistance, basic information about employment law in Luxembourg, the welcome and integration contract from the Luxembourg Integration Office (CAI), etc..

2) 7 Workshops about practical rights and duties at work, how to write a CV, how to present yourself for an internship, etc.

3) Unpaid internships in companies (up to 240 hours during a period of 6 months) with a dedicated job-mentor and an evaluation of the competences shown during the internship.

Participants are entitled to a participation certificate if they have attended at least 70% of the proposed activities. During these three steps we try to find suitable training for the participants by working closely with the professional chambers of Luxembourg and other institutions.

At our kick-off event in January 2016, over 300 people were interested in being involved in the project – including volunteers and participants. At the end of March 2016, the project was officially launched. Since the launch of the project, two groups of refugees have been set up - the first group took part in all the activities of the three steps and a second group is currently taking part in activities of the second stage.

As the asylum application process can sometimes last for a very long time, asylum seekers are often poorly prepared for the Luxembourgish labour market once they have received their international protection status

In the first group, 58 people were enrolled in the information sessions - based on the evaluation of linguistic skills - 30 people were able to continue in workshops and unpaid internships. At the end, a total of 20 participated in at least 70% of the information sessions and workshops and received their certificate of participation approved by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Childhood. For the second group, 74 people were registered in the information sessions – 38 are actually in the second step.

Finally, four people received the "European Computer Driving License" training certificate from the Chambre des salariés. Two people were offered a scholarship to the executive-MBA programme at the Sacred Heart University.

All these certificates come in addition to a “liaison booklet” and a “Portfolio” documenting the efforts made by the participants, whether in the other ASTI language learning project "Ma’an Zesummen Ensemble" or in the context of the “Connections” project. These documents will be useful to ADEM (Agency for the Development of Employment), in order to facilitate the orientation of these people in the labour market, once they have their international protection status. We are convinced that this approach will enhance the skills of refugees and give them a real chance to get a job in Luxembourg.

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