Promoting local integration and access to the labour market for refugees and asylum seekers in Mariestad, Sweden.
Submitted by: Hala Akari - Project coordinator in Mariestad municipality.
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Can be renewed if the County board continues funding municipalities to contribute in asylum seekers’ early integration.
The project tries to ease the financial, social and cultural pressures on host countries. It establishes a good educational base and social inclusion for new comers. It also promotes integration in the local labour market. This contributes to social peace and tolerance.
The project enhances refugee self-reliance by teaching Swedish, computer skills, social orientation and labour market orientation. We also teach asylum seekers how to write a CV and establish vocational training. We try to promote asylum seekers to the local public and private sector employers. Beneficiaries learn to depend on themselves and not on the State.
Some asylum seekers will have to return to their country of origin after their application is rejected. However, we believe that the self-development, the principles and values, such as democracy and equality, are things that they can take back with them. Hopefully, they will implement these in their new lives. It is an investment in the human capital as a whole that can benefit the societies that the returnees will live in.
Help social inclusion and integration into the labour market for asylum seekers in Sweden.
The project is financed by the V. Gotaland county board in Sweden. It is based in Maria Nova (the labour market department in the city of Mariestad).
- Civil society organisations
- Educational institutions
- Diaspora communities
How challenges were overcome
Neither Municipalities nor any other official agency, except the Migration Agency, have an obligation to work on the integration of asylum seekers and it might take years before asylum seekers get a final answer regarding their application for asylum. This group is excluded from the Swedish cultural and social life and from possibilities of self-development. The challenge was to encourage municipalities to contribute and lead the change in asylum seekers lives, both socially and economically.
We established a system which depends on services that the municipality already has. These services were developed to suit the needs of this vulnerable group. We also recruited people (mostly women) with migrant and refugee backgrounds to work on the project. In our team we hired a group of immigrants, Swedes and one asylum seeker.
Results of the Good Practice
- 150-170 asylum seekers, from 13 different nationalities, coming from seven different municipalities, meet and learn Swedish, social and labour market orientation, computer courses, health education, develop skills in digital documentation, music, art, cultural and environmental activities.
- 46 per cent of attendants are women, and babysitting is offered while mothers study.
- We hired eight people who suffered from long term unemployment to be in the project's team. The working team consists of people coming from six different nationalities, Swedish included, and one team member is an asylum seeker.
- Some asylum seekers found vocational trainings, some found internships. With our support, so far 10 have signed work contracts.
In the future, we plan to continue supporting asylum seekers in their integration and to establish a method for municipalities to help and support asylum seekers in cooperation with the migration agency, the labour agency and civil society.