Immigrant women must be prioritized
Work, Education, Integration
20 Dec 2022
Many had turned up at the workshop which dealt with immigrant women and integration in the labor market. There were many good suggestions for how women can more easily become part of working life. And there was one thing everyone agreed on and that is that now it is women's turn to be prioritized.
The participants at the seminar were first asked to rate how successful the integration into the labor market in their country is – on a scale from one to ten. No one gave the integration a full score, while there were many who gave the integration a score of five. The starting point for the discussion in the groups was therefore that there is much that can be improved and that women with an immigration background are a great and untapped resource.
One thing that many agreed on was that the women must be seen as individuals and not as a group. What works is one to one and that the woman gets a mentor to relate to. There were also many people who had great faith in subsidized workplaces. Research from the Scandinavian countries shows that subsidized workplaces are a measure that is mostly used against men and many think it is both right and fair that it is now women’s turn.
Many were also concerned that language training must start as early as possible and that work and language training must take place in parallel. Languages are learned faster when you are in the workforce and get language training while working.
Many pointed out that it is easier to be integrated into small communities and that it is important to have good introductory programs where the women are well received in the neighborhood. One group pointed to a successful project in Åre where people knocked on doors and in this way made contact. It is important to start the integration as soon as possible for it to be successful.
Something that also leads to good integration is if the employer receives support and that there is always a good dialogue with the employer.
What can be improved
There were many good suggestions on how the integration of women with an immigrant background can be improved. One of the things many were concerned about was that language teaching must improve and that in many cases it must move out of the classroom and into arenas where women are, including in the workplace.
One group also believed that women must be given more decision-making rights and that the approach to integration must become more personal and educational. The integration on the labor market should also be based more on statistics and knowledge and the cooperation with business life and the labor market must be far better. What workforce is needed and how can immigrant women best adapt to this working life?
Many also pointed out that the asylum process must go faster and that one must have a long-term perspective on integration. The measures must also be far more targeted than they are today.
Possibilities for Nordic cooperation
The participants would like to have more conferences with immigrant women as a theme. At such conferences, you can learn from each other and highlight the good examples and share success stories. It was also discussed that it is useful to compare results for the Nordic countries to see what works and what doesn’t.
More specifically, there was talk of developing a common passport for use in the Nordic countries that could show each individual woman’s competence and characteristics. The systems for approving the educations from the women’s home countries must also be improved and far simpler than they are today.
What policy changes can be suggested?
The workshop had many and varied proposals for how the integration policy can be changed. Most pointed out that greater investment must be made in the integration work and that the subsidy must be increased. Many were also concerned that flexible and good childcare solutions are absolutely essential for women to be able to work and provide for their families.
Many also pointed out that it must be easier to get approved education from abroad and that it should be profitable for employers to employ immigrant women. It must also be possible to get a job even if the language skills are not that good at the start. The most important thing is to get as many women as possible into work and then the language skills will come later.
The new large group of asylum seekers from Ukraine was also discussed during the workshop. Many believed that the authorities must not think short-term for this group, but rather have a long-term perspective.
Text: Eli Strand
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