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.
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.
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.
People & Organizations
- Project Team
- Maria Garrido, Research Assistant Professor, Information School
- Artemisszio Foundation
- DEMNET Foundation for Development of Democratic Rights
- Menedék – Hungarian Association for Migrants
- Reformed Mission Centre
- Southern Great Plain Regional Telecottage
- TÁRKI Social Research Institute
- Asociación Candelita
- Asociación Iniciativas Fontarrón
- Asociación Proyecto San Fermín
- Asociación Redes Extremadura Cultura y Desarrollo ACUDEX
- Cooperativa Abierto hasta el amanecer
- Federación de Mujeres Progresistas
- Fundación Adsis
- Fundación Akwaba
- Fundación Balia
- Fundación CEPAIM
- Acción Integral con MigrantesFundación Esplai
- Fundación Jovesolides