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The repercussions of the unstable situation in the Middle East and the ongoing war in Syria since 2011 have been felt ever more strongly in Europe, too. 3,88 million people fled from Syria alone in 2014. The refugee crisis reached a tentative climax in 2015, during the first half, as many people were seeking asylum as during the whole of 2014. The high number of refugees from these areas of conflict, entering EU member states on a daily basis, proposes a challenge to all of society’s institutions. Most of these asylum seekers will most likely be granted asylum status, meaning they will not return to their countries of origin any time soon.

Accordingly, the question has to be asked how to integrate them into society and the labour market. Immigration can also be regarded as an opportunity, especially regarding vacant positions in apprenticeships and skilled labourers in the so-called shortage occupations as well as when looking at demographic change. Previous methods applied aiming at the integration of refugees into the workforce normally take up years, which means, far too long. Before a respective target group might participate in a qualification programme or a vocational education, it is mandatory at this time to display a certain fluency in the languages, which must be obtained beforehand. So, a number of years pass before these people can be integrated into the labour market with a full-time occupation. This term is too long because it not only diminishes competence and motivation during this waiting period, but it also stalls social integration. It is very important to learn from the past to avoid the situation of the 60's and 70's where immigrant workers were filling up the gap in the labour market needs, did low-quality jobs and didn't learn the language or integrate in society.

70% of the refugees are under 30 years old, this is a great challenge for economy to qualify talented new employees in companies, which have problems to found local qualified staff.

Therefore, an approach is needed that addresses refugees’ competence right from the start, matches them to the labour market’s needs and further educates and trains them in order to enable them to start in their respective occupations. Additionally, this approach aims to simplify the transitions between the systems as well as the different levels of qualification.

The project is carried out transnationally as the refugee crisis and it's consequences is a Europe-wide phenomenon which needs European solutions. Hereby the project takes under consideration the different labour market situations of the partnering countries and will develop an approach adaptable to different national needs and circumstances.

Direct target groups for the model and material that is planned are trainers, teachers, VET schools, training centres, SME, employers, chambers of crafts and industry, job agencies etc.

Indirect target group are refugees and asylum seekers, specially male in the age of 18-30.


The ‘Fast Lane to the Labour Market’ project offers an innovative approach for the problem of integrating refugees into the labour market as described above: With its approach being both integrative and co-operational, based on the principles of Work-based learning (WBL), ECVET as well as content and language integrated learning (CLIL), it shortens the time span from the refugees’ arrival until the point of entrance into the labour market because it combines the acquisition of language skills, social and cultural integration as well as vocational qualification. The project encompasses all phases that members of said target group have to pass through: arrival and orientation, qualification and education as well as integration into the primary job market. For the first phase of arrival and orientation, new methods of recognition of existing skills and competence will be developed.

A comprehensive recognition of capabilities and soft skills (analysis of potential) at the beginning is especially important in order to plan and guarantee a complete qualification and subsequent entrance into the labour market by using an individual learning pathway. The challenge in working with said target group lies in the fact that the usual methods of competence are rendered useless due to a lack of language proficiency paired with other communicational barriers. Writing assignments as well as records of learning results cannot be applied. A new means of competence must be based on the visualisation of work assignments and work steps. It is just as difficult to evaluate writing and oral fluency in a group comprised of participants from a number of different countries. Due to this, the refugees’ skills will be detected first and foremost via the employment of new methods and through creative and biographical work. Special attention is given to the rating of non-formal and informal learning. During the orientation phase, refugees will be motivated to reflect upon themselves and to determine their strengths through practical tasks, finding out if

the desired vocations fit their expectations. The final product of this phase will be a kind of ‘quick scan’, a method of recognition of skills and competences that quickly recognizes the target groups’ skills, experiences and motivations in order to start with qualification and education shortly to an individual learning pathway. This "Competence Quick Scan" serves especially for the recognition and transparency of skills, knowledge and competences that the participants had already gained in the countries of origin during workplaces and non formal or informal learning processes. The quick scan aims to show this skills and competences by using learning units. These learning units and the learning outcomes will be validated by the ECVET principles, mostly used in learning mobilities.

Project Partners

Alfa-college has over 12,500 students in the age range of 16 - 60 and 1,055 members of staff at various divisions in the northeastern part of the Netherlands with Groningen as its centre. Alfa-college caters for a wide range of intermediate vocational training and tailor-made adult education from which (young) people can choose, fitting in with their ambition and talent with which they can obtain a strong position on the labour market due to the fact that apart from social behaviour attention is paid to functioning in an organisation. Furthermore Alfa-college provides tailor-made courses for business and industry. The Ministry of Education in the Netherlands has created a policy framework in which the ROCs have to be transformed into social enterprises. This has resulted in the obligation to see to an adequate tie-up between education and the labour market. Encouraging the possibilities of students to obtain an international orientation is a main target of Alfa-college’s international policy.

These students acquire new personal and social skills by working in a different culture, speaking another language and complying with rules and regulations differing from Dutch culture.

Alfa-college works closely together in international projects aimed at innovation and renewal of educational programmes. We participate under various international Lifelong Learning Programmes funded by Erasmus Plus, Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig and other EU programmes.

The ROC's programme focuses on the development of the European dimension in VET. Within the framework of the strategy policy for the Northern Netherlands and because of Alfa-college’s presence in this area, the college has developed the following objectives: to improve the skills and competencies of people, especially of young people, in initial vocational training at all levels, with a view to facilitating their integration and reintegration or to enhance the employability in the labour market. Alfa-college is a denominational Regional Education Centre (ROC) for vocational training and adult education. For people with a long distance to the labour market Alfa-college provides programs for both native an non-native (young) adults which are tailormade for the specific background and needs of this target group.

Alfa- college also had a department for immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Nowadays the population is around 550 persons. Programs like cultural awareness, Dutch as a second languages, combination of vocational training/ programs for future jobs are taught.

BEST Institut für berufsbezogene Weiterbildung und Personaltraining GmbH ( was founded in 1990 as an independent Austrian organisation for providing continuous training, vocational qualification and career services. Its main activities comprise the development of innovative training programmes for young (+16) individuals and adults, many of them disadvantaged and with migration background, on continuous and vocational training, counselling & coaching and activation for job seekers and employees.

The training schemes are client-oriented and based on both the specific needs of the labour market and the participants' individual situations, skills and competences, previous experience and life circumstances.

The institute has its headquarters in Vienna and operates six branches in the Vienna and Lower Austria region for up to 12.000 students per year (2015). The innovative training programmes for different target groups include own pedagogic and didactic approaches and materials, especially for social integration, empowerment, self-reflection and motivation, as well as ICT based methods which are constantly being updated. As one of the first training institutes in Austria, BEST has become a certified provider of the ECDL European Computer Driving Licence, EBCL European Business Competence Licence and ECo-C European Communication Certificate, and offers respective trainings and exams. Since 2008 BEST is an official CERTNO Training Centre certified by Danube University Krems and approved by the Lower Austria Government. Since 2012 BEST has also the ‘wien-cert’, the quality certification for adult education.

Within its International Projects Department, since 1995, BEST has been engaged in more than 160 European projects, both as coordinator and partner, in the framework of various EU programmes (Leonardo, Socrates/Grundtvig, EQUAL, LLP, ESF, eTEN, FP, EuropeAid, Erasmus+, H2020, IEE, INTERREG, etc.). The institute disposes of a network of more than 250 international organisations, both public and private, from different sectors, and is focused on networking, exchange of experience and practices, peer learning, research and development of innovation, knowledge management, personal and professional development.

De Lift vzw (nonprofit organization) is a kind of an umbrella-organization (holding structure) of different organizations realizing programs in the domain of activating-, training- and guiding to labour market of different target groups, such as long term unemployed people, newcomers, low- or short educated jobseekers, youngsters, elder jobseekers and so on. We use different methods and instruments to reach these goals (vocational training, work experience, guidance, language training,…). At this moment we have one operational projects concerning refugees searching a job, initiated by the city of Antwerp. We are also promotor of a large tender initiated by the Flemish public labour office (not yet adjuged) for the region of the province of Antwerp. Vocational training in welding, metallurgy, electricity, mechanics, catering and cooking, greenworks, cleaning and so on.

We offer (technical) language training to all our participants. In order to reach this we develop technical picture dictionaries (printed and digital versions). We pay a lot of attention to good relationships with economic actors, such als companies, branches, employersorganizations who we make to our partners.

The Diaconia Valdese is a national non profit organisation within the Waldensian Church in Italy. Waldensians and Methodists are Christians who belong to the family of reformed churches. The Diaconia Valdese has regional operations in 6 Italian regions (Piedmont, Veneto, Tuscany, Liguria, Lazio, and Sicily). For decades the Diaconia Valdese has managed at a national level several services designed to people coming from difficult backgrounds: diurnal and residential services and special projects for minors, youngsters, families, seniors, persons with disabilities and specific dementia (Alzheimer and others), social farms, refugees and asylum seekers.

Several guest houses economically contribute to the social services. Diaconia Valdese has several years of experience in writing, implementing and managing projects at a local, national and European level. It developed project to improve and innovate several of its field of action, with elderly people, youngsters, disabled and asylum seekers. Diaconia Valdese is part of several international Networks: EDYN (Ecumenical Diaconal Year Network -, a network for the exchange of long-term volunteers, Phiren Amenca (, a network for the integration of Roma people in the societies, Eurodiaconia (, a network to enhance the solidarity, equality and justice in Europe.

iTTA is expert in language learning in practical, real-life context, vocational education and integration. ITTA is developer of the integration exam for Orientation on the Dutch Labour Market.

The daily work of ITTA consists of services like developing teaching materials, teacher trainings, consultancy work for government, local government, schools, companies, employability centres, VET schools etc. The scope of the work is for all levels of language, for all ages of learners and in all sorts of daily life settings and specific needs (parental involvement, workplace, vocational education etc.).

Scalda provides VET curricula in the area of Economic studies, Health Care, Tourism and food, Maritime studies, Polytechnics, ICT, Electronic and Design and educational programs for adults. Scalda has about 9.000 students in all parts of the province of Zeeland, with schools in Goes, Middelburg, Vlissingen and Terneuzen. Also Scalda is open for community service and seeks a close cooperation with trade and industry. Scalda aims at getting the best out of each student and offers a safe and inspirational educational environment.

Scalda is the main institute in the region offering Vocational education and adult education and special attention is focused on students who are at risk of exclusion, resulting in special courses aimed at this target group.

Scalda has successfully been involved for years in European projects, e.g. in the program of Leonardo da Vinci, Comenius, Grundtvig and also in the Interreg program. Over the years Scalda has acted both as lead partner and project partner for Leonardo da Vinci projects and above mentioned programs like Comenius Region Partnership, Interreg 2 Seas and Interreg Flanders-Netherlands.

During the years 2013 and 2014 Scalda was leadpartner of a Leonardo da Vinci TOI - and Partnership project and a Grundtvig project.

Sterpunt Inclusief Ondernemen (formerly known as Steunpunt Lokale Netwerken Opleiding en Tewerkstelling vzw) is an umbrella organisation / support centre for it's member organizations - called 'de Werkplekarchitecten'. These 'Werkplekarchitecten' are over 100 organisations who are not-for-profit providers of training, coaching and workplace learning offering a wide range of career support tailored to both job seekers or employees as well as their employers. They are locally active or in a certain region (province), while some are active in the whole Flemisch territory and in Brussels.


Sterpunt Inclusief Ondernemen represents and supports these not-for-profit providers of training, coaching and workplace learning, and uses the name ‘de Werkplekarchitecten’ on behalf of the member organisations it represents towards relevant stakeholders and the public. Sterpunt Inclusief Ondernemen is active since1991 and recognized by the Flemish government as interlocutor on behalf of the sector. 'De Werkplekarchitecten' are more than a hundred non-profit-driven organizations that are alltogether active in more than 230 locations in Flanders and Brussels. These organisations decided to use the same baseline (de Werkplekarchitecten) to show their relatedness and common mission/activities, while keeping their own name.


Gewerkstatt - a private non-profit-making company was founded in 1985 in Bochum to set up and carry out projects aimed at combatting unemployment in our region. The Ruhrarea ,Germany`s former heart of the industrial production, has had to deal with structural economic changes in the last 20 years. At the beginning vocational training and education courses for young unemployed persons in various professions were offered. Main target was to create entrepreneurship skills. In order to give these young people also an opportunity to enter the job market after the training courses various small business were started up: e.g. Chrysler dealer in Bochum, neon-glass-blow company in Essen, electric installation enterprise and at least in 2004 the Restaurant Henrichs in Hattingen. A main topic of vocational training and education is in the area of the service sector. Therefore a Conference Centre (BOGATA) and a guest house (58 beds) was opened which offers practical training facilities.