Refugees and immigrants in Portugal

How to recognise competences
22 feb 2017

On 27 March, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation hosts a conference entitled Recognising the Qualifications and Skills of Immigrant and Refugees organised to discuss the mechanisms necessary for recognition of the human resource capacities present among non-nationals in Portugal, in particular those of immigrants and refugees in conjunction with the needs of Portuguese firms for qualified members of staff. In partnership with Lisbon Municipal Council and the High Commission for Migrations and chaired by João Peixoto (Lisbon Univ.), this conference takes place under the auspices of the Municipal Plan for the Integration of Immigrants in Lisbon (2015-2017).

The case of Germany represents one point of focus given its adoption of highly relevant integration strategies in recent years as one of the European destinations facing the largest flows of immigrants and where the largest number of refugees have been welcomed. In January of this year, the German Federal Agency of Employment released data that identified a fall in unemployment to a historical minimum in what remains the largest economy in the Eurozone even while hundreds of thousands of refugees have been registered as searching for employment.

Language programs, professional training and the recognition of qualifications as well as the simplification of bureaucratic processes may all facilitate the employability of refugees and foster their integration into employment markets, which in turn may contribute towards reversing the ageing of European societies. This conference, with representatives from employee and trade union entities in attendance, provides the opportunity to debate a vast range of competences, ranging from intermediate to higher skill levels, including both certified and uncertified skills, and especially taking into consideration the position faced by immigrants and refugees in Portugal.

We would here recall that between 2003 and 2011, the Gulbenkian Foundation implemented three projects in partnership with the Jesuit Service to Refugees and the Portuguese Ministry of Health in order to ensure the recognition of the qualifications of immigrant doctors and nurses. As a result of these projects, the qualifications of over two hundred non-national doctors and nurses received recognition prior to their integration into the National Health Service.

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