Immigrant Women and e-Skills in Europe

The Immigrant Women & e-Skills in Europe Study investigates how ICT training programs effect the employability and social inclusion of immigrant women in Europe. TASCHA researchers surveyed 375 immigrant women and 155 native-born women in Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and Romania. Data also included interviews with staff at non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Researchers found that strengthening e-skills among immigrant women advances their employability through: education and lifelong learning, social inclusion, and cultural inclusion. Findings also suggest that NGOs are pivotal in fostering integration and in promoting many of the non-technical competencies that are required to succeed in the labor market.


  • Publications
  • Findings
  • Recommendations
  • Computer training promotes technical skills.

    Participants identified a number of ways that
    computers are important. Respondents that
    received computer training reported higher
    computer and internet skill levels than those
    that did not receive training (Figure 1). For
    these women, training seems to make the difference
    between “no skills” and “basic skills.”

  • Higher computer skill levels do not necessarily correlate with employment.

    While computer skills are often necessary to
    find a job or write a resume, computer skills
    alone are not sufficient to obtain employment.
    Skill level is not an indicator of employment
    for immigrant women. But this does not
    mean that computer training does not promote
    employability. Trainees with basic skills
    may have recently begun computer training
    precisely because they are unemployed.
    Immigrant women,
    e-skills, and
    in Europe
    The case of Hungary,
    Italy, the Netherlands,
    Romania, and Spain

  • Social and cultural skills may be as important as technical skills.

    Social and cultural
    skills, such as the ability to communicate in
    different settings or work as a team, may be
    important employability skills. Computer
    training can catalyze the development of
    these skills. Trainees often develop more
    nuanced social and cultural skills by spending
    time with other participants. Sometimes
    computers are used to directly promote
    social skills, such as in language courses.

  • NGOs are crucial community resources.

    Especially for immigrant women who are
    building social capital, opportunities to
    learn from and with others are crucial.
    Respondents consistently identified NGOs
    as safe learning environments. The organizations
    are trusted resources for finding
    jobs and getting important information
    about day-to-day life. Respondents also take
    advantage of a variety of NGOs — 90% of
    trainees frequent more than two NGOs.

  • Stronger and diversified social networks help in a variety of ways.

    Immigrant women often
    develop close, new relationships when they
    enroll in computer courses. They also use
    technology to communicate with friends and
    family, both in their old and new countries.
    These bridging and bonding relationships
    help them find work, improve quality of life,
    and are indicators of social integration.

  • Social integration deepens with length of stay

    With longer residence in the new country,
    immigrant women increasingly engage
    with organizations outside the immigrant
    community (such as tenants’ associations,
    neighborhood groups, or public libraries).
    Conversely, participation in events within
    their own ethnic or language groups decreases
    significantly — by almost 20% — after living
    in the host country for more than ten years.

  • Home-country training is often not recognized.

    Many women reported significant
    vocational training or experience
    their countries of origin (as nurses, office
    etc.). As new arrivals, however,
    many found that their credentials were
    not recognized and therefore sought work
    in different fields. Forty-six percent of
    women reported that their current jobs
    did not relate to their skills or training.

  • Programs should account for the integration continuum.

    Integration is a continuum
    — there is no bright line marking when one
    becomes “integrated.” Programs should avoid
    treating immigrants as a single group. Consider
    segmenting immigrants by length of stay
    and programming for their specific needs.

  • Policies should reduce barriers to employment.

    Immigrant women are sometimes
    unable to take advantage of formal
    education and employment opportunities
    because their experience or credentials are
    not recognized in their new countries. Policies
    that standardize the transnational recognition
    of credentials represent an important
    economic gain for individual immigrants,
    employers, and the host-country economy.

  • NGOs should strengthen programs to expand social networks.

    Ties between women and
    ties between organizations can facilitate connections that strengthen the employability
    and integration of immigrant women.

  • NGOs should emphasize complementary skills.

    The variety of services that
    wrap-around and complement computer
    training represents an important system of
    inputs. They are most effective when their
    complementary roles are acknowledged and
    leveraged. Language training, for example,
    can be paired with computer training in
    innovative ways that advance both skills.



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