Remarks by Commissioner Avramopoulos
Today, on World Refugee Day, we think of the more than 65 million people that are displaced globally because of war or persecution.
While we think of them on this day, their displacement however, is not just for one day. They are often displaced for many months and years. This is why our actions also cannot be limited in the short term.
As you know, the European Commission has been taking a number of important steps to address the challenges of the ongoing refugee crisis both inside and outside Europe.
In fact today, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis is delivering new projects for €275 million to support Syrian refugees and their host communities in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, the Western Balkans and Armenia.
The support from the EU Syria Trust Fund has now crossed the €1 billion mark.
In the span of two years, we have built a comprehensive and proactive approach to managing migration holistically. But we cannot remain in crisis-modus forever. We need to think about the future.
Migration is not just about challenges, it is also about opportunities. Refugees and migrants come with their own experiences, talents and skills. These can be real assets for our economies and societies overall.
While around a quarter of non-EU nationals in the EU have tertiary education degrees, almost two thirds of them are over-qualified for their jobs or even without a job. Investing in early labour market integration is therefore paramount.
I am very happy to present to you today with my colleague Marianne Thyssen a joint effort to shorten the journey for newly arrived migrants and refugees to employment. What we launch today is the "skills profile tool". This will help migrants to present their skills, qualifications, and experiences in a way that is well understood by different actors (employers, authorities, organisations, NGOs…) across the whole European Union. Marianne can tell you more about it.
Learning from the past, and particularly in the current context, we cannot start early enough with facilitating integration. Some EU countries already have well-developed integration policies, but others are more "new" to this.
And this is precisely where we can help.
At the EU level, we want to streamline this common effort so that all Member States can make use of it in full or in part, freely and easily.
Labour market integration is a shared responsibility between governments, public employment services, local actors but also the private sector of course.
This is why on this occasion, I would also like to recall the initiative that the Commission launched on 23rd May to promote employers' efforts to support the integration of refugees and other migrants.
I invite all economic actors to join the "Employers for integration" initiative in order to make real difference on the ground, together.
As I said earlier, migration is not just a challenge but an opportunity. Today is a day to remember not just the vulnerabilities of refugees, but their many capabilities, their resilience, their talents.
Remarks by Commissioner Thyssen
Ladies and gentlemen,
In today's world of work, skills are more than ever the key to success. We need to mobilise all talent.
Third-country nationals legally residing in the EU come with a diversity of skills that can contribute to our economies and societies.
Integration is a win-win story. If well integrated, migrants will contribute to the growth and competitiveness of our businesses and economies. At the same time, effective integration will protect them against poverty and social exclusion.
The EU Skills Profile Tool is a very practical tool that can help to make their integration a reality.
Migrants living in the EU face significant barriers in the labour market. These are due to differences in language, lack of networks, and yes, sometimes discrimination. But crucially, the absence of documentary evidence of their skills and qualifications makes it even more difficult for them to integrate.
Which steps are needed, depends on the specific profile of migrant. For example, someone with a high level of education may need recognition of his or her existing qualifications, help with developing networks and guidance by public employment services. A lower skilled migrant will rather need basic education and training. With the EU Skills Profile Tool we can map people's skills, experience and qualifications and their needs, so the right choices towards their labour market integration can be made.
As an EU instrument, it means that it's available for all Member States to use and it draws upon best practice from across countries. It will also allow migrants to present their skills in a way which is understood by all reception centres, integration services, public employment services and other organisations offering services to migrants throughout the whole Union.
A demo-version of the tool has been evaluated by not less than 69 organisations, whose feedback has been integrated in the tool. The British Council in Greece and reception centres in Italy have also tested the tool on the ground.
This morning I witnessed first-hand at Petit Chateau in Brussels how the tool can be used by asylum seekers together with their social assistants. It is user friendly and can be tailored to the specific situation of each person. Member States, services, social workers and stakeholders can also select only those parts and questions which are relevant for them. The tool will be available in all of the languages of the EU as well as Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Sorani, Somali and Tigrinya.
With the 'EU Skills Profile Tool' we can give refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants a human and professional face. It allows them to show who they are and what they can offer to our societies. This way, they can fully put their talents at use of our labour markets while paving the way to a happy, successful life.
I hope that take-up of the tool will be broad and that it will be put to good use. I look forward to working together with all actors on the ground to make this a useful tool for third-country nationals, businesses, services and Member States.