European Migration Forum debates migrant business

The European Migration Forum, which met on 6-7 March, devoted a workshop to entrepreneurship. Federico Camporesi of DIESIS reports

 

On 6-7 March in Brussels, the 4th meeting took place of the European Migration Forum (EMF), the EU dialogue platform on migration, asylum and migrant integration. It discussed the challenges and opportunities for the integration of migrants into national labour markets in Europe.

The event, hosted by the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), was attended by more than 200 representatives from NGOs, local and regional authorities, national governments, the Commission and the EESC. EMEN was represented by DIESIS, AEIDL and UNITEE.

The EMF is the occasion to build a bridge between civil society and the EU institutions on the theme of migration. This year’s meeting focused on the integration of migrants into the labour market, considered a key step in the overall integration process. All the keynote speakers agreed that migrants are an important resource in our ageing societies and can help to fill skills and labour shortages. Efforts at all levels should focus on their integration into the labour market and on the recognition of equal opportunities.

Two migrants, Maria Lourdes Gernan and Ramin Shadani, gave touching testimonies of their experiences of migration and integration into the labour market, in Ireland and Slovenia respectively, and of the determination and resourcefulness this had required.

Entrepreneurship on the agenda

In addition to the plenary sessions, eight participative workshops covered different aspects of labour market integration:

  • How to foster a multi-stakeholder approach in labour market integration
  • Concrete solutions for better local cooperation
  • Best practices in recognising and developing skills
  • Matching refugees’ skills with labour market needs
  • Irregular migrants in the labour market
  • Preventing labour exploitation and ensuring decent working conditions
  • Tackling discrimination and promoting diversity at the workplace
  • Promoting entrepreneurship among migrants and supporting the social economy

The workshops were a good opportunity for discussion and confrontation and the results, as summarised by the rapporteurs, were debated in a round-table by Menno Bart (Adecco Group), Lazar Lazarov (Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Policy, Bulgarian Presidency) and Simon Mordue (Deputy Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission), with the help of moderator Sean Klein.

DIESIS was appointed as rapporteur of the two workshops that focused on “Tackling discrimination and promoting diversity at the workplace” and “Promoting entrepreneurship among migrants and supporting the social economy”. These workshops touched on aspects of integration that are deeply connected to the EMEN project, in particular with regard to migrant entrepreneurship. Participants pointed out that entrepreneurship, and in particular social entrepreneurship, plays an important role in integration by providing employment and opportunities for migrants. They stressed importance of fostering support schemes for migrants and in particular of focusing on training, coaching, and mentoring.

The forum was also the occasion for the election of EMF board members and we are happy to congratulate Adem Kumcu (UNITEE) for his election to the board as a European civil society representative.

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