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Original language: German
Counselling and competency assessment for new immigrants—what is required?
For new immigrants, integration into the labour market is a key requirement for gaining a foothold in their host country. Assessing the competencies and work experience and recognising the qualifications obtained in the country of origin represents a major challenge. In this context, counselling offers are required that are tailored to new immigrants and enable competency assessment appropriate to the target group.
The Erasmus+ project SCOUT (“asSessing COmpetences for fUTure”), which is run by the German Institute for Adult Education (DIE) in cooperation with partner organisations from Austria, Spain, Sweden, Greece and Slovenia, takes this situation as its starting point. A toolkit for counsellors has been developed to assist in competency assessment and counselling for new immigrants: the SCOUT toolkit.
An initial comprehensive needs analysis in the form of research, focus groups, and expert interviews in all participating partner countries provided insight into what target group-appropriate competency assessment might look like. In addition to overcoming the language barrier, we also aimed at low-threshold accessibility and individualised forms of access. Bearing these and further criteria in mind, an investigation of the existing tools for competency assessment was carried out in all SCOUT partner countries. After a thorough screening process, 20 tools were selected for the final toolkit.
An interactive video on the project website introduces the toolkit and its contents. The innovative format provides an overview of the SCOUT toolkit in just 5 minutes.
The SCOUT toolkit—what does it offer and how can it be used?
The SCOUT toolkit is more than just a loose collection of existing tools for assessing the competencies of new immigrants; the tools have been systematically pooled and made user-friendly. Every tool is represented by a fact sheet that offers a compact overview of the most important information, while in each case there is a direct link to the tool for users to simply click and test.
Image: Sample fact sheet from page 7 of the toolkit
Two major categories (“Tools supporting the counselling process” and “Tools for self-assessment”) with accompanying sub-categories provide orientation and make it possible to quickly find the most suitable tool for the respective counselling situation. The ProfilPASS in simple language, for example, can help to structure the counselling process. The ProfilPASS is a tool for assessing non-formally and informally acquired competencies and has existed in Germany since 2006 and throughout Europe since 2014. The ProfilPASS used in the SCOUT toolkit has been adapted for new immigrants. The language, content, and layout of the resulting ProfilPASS in simple language is tailored to the immigrants’ particular circumstances and needs. The ProfilPASS in simple language is available as a free download here. A printed version (in German) is available from the publisher wbv media.
If you look at the tools for self-assessment, you can find, for example, the “EU Skills Profile Tool for Third Country Nationals” in the sub-category “Comprehensive competence assessment”. Various competency areas can be assessed online in a straightforward manner. It is even possible to display two languages on screen simultaneously, which means that a joint assessment with the counsellor is possible without the content having to be explained or translated. At the same time, the SCOUT toolkit can and should be used in a flexible and open manner. Just as everyone seeking advice has individual requirements and circumstances, it should also be possible to offer counselling that is individualised. The counsellors are free to be as professionally creative as they wish. The individual tools or even aspects of various tools can be freely combined with one another. A particular feature of the SCOUT toolkit and the ProfilPASS in simple language is its availability in different languages. In addition to the German and English versions, the toolkit and ProfilPASS in simple language are also available in all the project partner languages (Spanish, Greek, Swedish, and Slovenian).
Additional supporting material was also developed during the project to make working with the SCOUT toolkit easier for counsellors. This material is also available in all the project partner languages, and in English. The SCOUT manual offers assistance to counsellors. It explains the structure of the toolkit and ProfilPASS in simple language and the different ways they can be used. The SCOUT curriculum complements the manual and the toolkit. It offers guidelines and recommendations for training counsellors.
The outlook for competency counselling with the SCOUT toolkit—where does the path lead?
Using these materials, over 30 counsellors in all SCOUT partner countries have already been trained to use the SCOUT toolkit and the ProfilPASS in simple language. The results of the training evaluation show that the toolkit and, in particular, the ProfilPASS in simple language are highly valued. In particular, the suitability and user-friendliness for new immigrants were emphasised.
Furthermore, a test phase for the toolkit and the ProfilPASS in simple language is currently under way, in the course of which counselling with new immigrants is taking place. Early feedback again confirms that the materials are extremely practical and good at meeting existing needs.
It is important to bear in mind that the activities surrounding the integration of and counselling for new immigrants constitute a fast-moving field. For example, some tools for competency assessment arose in the context of particular projects and did not prove suitable in the long-term. The SCOUT toolkit also contains a few tools which, for various reasons—such as the end of a project—are no longer available. It is therefore all the more important for counsellors that the ProfilPASS in simple language represents a tool that is institutionally established and thus suitable for long-term use. Training for counselling work with the ProfilPASS in simple language is already available outside the project framework. In the long term, the SCOUT toolkit will also contain a core group of tools that establish themselves “on the market” and are being used continuously. So while the SCOUT results are moving in a positive direction with regard to sustainability, implementing different content and useful results from various (project) contexts as well as making them viable in the long-term is still a major challenge.
About the authors:
Eva Bonn is a research assistant at Deutsches Institut für Erwachsenenbildung - Leibniz-Zentrum für Lebenslanges Lernen e.V. (German Institute for Adult Education - DIE).
Goran Jordanoski is a research associate at Deutsches Institut für Erwachsenenbildung – Leibniz-Zentrum für Lebenslanges Lernen e.V. Since 2017, he has been coordinator of the EU Project SCOUT - “aSsessing Competences fOr fUTure” (2017-1-DE02-KA204-004194).
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