Germany is home to around 16.5 million people with a migration background, representing 20 percent of the population. Due to a number of factors, unemployment is about twice as high among people who have a migration background compared to those who do not. In recent years, immigration to Germany has risen significantly, particularly from other EU countries. Many of these migrants hold professional degrees or other valuable credentials that are frequently not recognised in Germany. At the same time, skills shortages are becoming ever more evident.
Against this background, it is essential to tap all available potential and especially that of migrants. Since 2005, the Network "Integration through Qualification (IQ)" has been working to improve employment opportunities for people with a migration background. In the 2015-2018 phase, the network has an additional focus on compensatory measures in the context of the Recognition Act. An objective of central importance is that occupational qualifications acquired outside Germany lead to employment appropriate to one’s level of education.
The perception of migrants is frequently a stereotypical image of shortcomings. Bringing the potential of migrants into sharper focus and eliminating discrimination is important not only for a diverse society, but also for improving the labour market integration of migrants. Therefore, building and strengthening intercultural skills among labour market stakeholders remains one of the central concerns of the Network IQ.
Structure of the funding programme
The principal task of the 16 regional networks (one for each Bundesland or federal state) is to implement the programme at the regional level. Each is managed by a regional coordinator and covers a range of subprojects operating on the ground. They offer counselling for credentials recognition and skills advancement and develop as well as implement the necessary bridging training. Beyond that, they provide information, advice and training to labour market stakeholders in order to raise awareness for the specific concerns of migrants and disseminate specialised knowledge.
Besides the regional networks there are five competence centres dedicated to migrant-specific concerns at the federal level. They provide expert advice and assistance to the regional networks. These centres develop training schemes, instruments and policy recommendations for integrating migrants into the labour market. In addition, the Competence Centres are responsible for giving specialist advice to decision-makers in politics, business and public administration. This can range from the development of quality standards and learning materials to the dissemination of research results.
At the federal level, the programme is coordinated by the IQ Dissemination Project (IQ DP). The project facilitates cooperation between the network partners, supports the transfer of best practices and is responsible for the public relations of the Network IQ. Together with the Competence Centres, DP IQ reports the results of the network to relevant government ministries, the Federal Employment Agency and the expert community. “Recognition in Germany” is the multilingual web portal of the Federal Government for the recognition of foreign professional qualifications. The portal works in close cooperation with the Network IQ.
In the first two priority areas, the programme is funded by the Federal Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and the European Social Fund (ESF). Strategic partners in implementing the programme are the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and the Federal Employment Agency (BA). The third priority area is financed through federal government funds.
For more information please check out the homepage of the IQ Network: www.netzwerk-iq.de