Alex comes from Brazil and has been in Germany for the past 18 months. He feels that Germany is his new home and likes it here. He even found a job: he is a teacher for Spanish and Portuguese and a musician. His life in Germany is just as he imagined, but he always hits the same wall: he does not have the right degrees to get a secure and well-paying job. Even though he speaks Spanish Portuguese better than many teachers, and speaks fluent German with nothing but the slightest of accents – he never entered any kind of training.
“I can do lots of things, I just don’t know how to prove it”, he says. A lot of times a good job went to somebody who came in “with a paper” even though that person was less well suited for the position. Alex’s disadvantage: “Everything I know, I know from experience. If I had the chance to prove that, it would be great.”
This is exactly where DIVERSE comes in. Among other things, it wants give non-EU citizens the opportunity to have their unofficial degrees and competencies recognized. Unofficial degrees were, for example, obtained via workshops or conferences that do not award certificates or whose certificates are not recognized. Unofficial competencies are obtained in everyday life, at work or in free time. This can include languages, but also technical things. Somebody who rides their motorbike a lot will probably know how to repair it too – without being able to prove it.
DIVERSE wants to develop a model that would make it easier for non-EU citizens to integrate and compete in the German labor market. In addition, DIVERSE aims to better involve migrants in areas of life and work.
“We are currently developing a process to make unofficial degrees and competencies measurable” says Roman Lietz, research assistant at Karlshochschule. The idea is to class degrees and competencies at level that is comparable to European standards. Job-seekers could then use this “translated” degree to apply for work, and employers would benefit from the transparency of unofficial degrees. Of course, the idea is not limited to non-EU citizens only. Everybody should get a chance to have their unofficial degrees recognized.
The second goal of the project is to manage diversity in companies. Francisco Javier Montiel explains: “So far most measures are only targeted at age or sex, and less on cultural diversity or participation of non-EU citizens.” The last aspect of the DIVERSE project deals with the concept of volunteering and under which conditions migrants are the most active.
The researchers of the DIVERSE project work with regional stakeholders from the government, clubs, associations and chambers of commerce. At the same time, the non-EU migrants get the chance to participate in workshops. The project is carried out EU-wide 10 countries participate, the European Integration Fund (EIF) sponsors the project.
If DIVERSE can be successfully integrated in EU politics, it would also help people like Alae: he finished a one-year long informatics training in Morocco, that his degree is not recognized in Germany became clear to him very soon. For that reason he wants to start over with a training course to become a paramedic, he even found a place already. His experience in informatics however did not play a role in his acceptance – even though he would have much more to offer than the average trainee.
The same could have happened to him in France, and in Brazil, Alex adds: language teachers and musicians have to overcome similar hurdles like in Germany. “There I also needed qualifications”, he says. He therefore has high hopes for the project: “This is exactly what I needed.”