Traumatised refugees at the labour market

Find new inspiration for effective employment initiatives for vulnerable and traumatised refugees based on comprehensive research and mapping of best practices in the Nordic Countries

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Overall conclusions of the study

Limited knowledge base

The overall knowledge base about employment-directed initiatives for refugees who are psychologically vulnerable, have trauma symptoms or who are traumatised is limited. There are few studies of specific interventions for the target group and the robustness of the studies in terms of measuring effects is low.

Evolving field of knowledge

Despite the limited knowledge base in the literature, this study also reveals a field in development. Several practices have been identified and score highly as “best practices” and therefore have a high probability for positive employment outcomes for the target group.

Work first initiatives

Work First initiatives have very good employment results compared to the other initiatives. This may be because the target groups in some instances are better assessed and have less complex problems but it also speaks to the relevance of working more stringently methodical with the target group. One of the most important conceptions in Work First initiatives is a focused and reduced use of work placement.

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Initiatives

We took a closer look at eight initiatives with positive effects on employment of the participants

Initiative

Arbeid fra dag én

Systematic use of Supported Employment

Arbeid fra dag én

Learning points

Facts

Actors: Refugee Office in Bærum Municipality and NAV (Labour and Welfare Administration)

Contact person: Camilla Bildsten, Bærum Municipality, Refugee Office, email: camilla.bildsten@baerum.kommune.no, telephone: +47 915 98 591

Purpose: Participants start regular work or education.

Target group for initiative: All refugees in the Introductory Program in Bærum Municipality who have a minimum of Norwegian language skills and are motivated (see assessment/approval requirements below)

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: 18 participants, of which an unspecified number have psychological difficulties.

Duration of initiative: The initiative is not time limited but limited by the duration of the introductory program. The introductory program can last up to two years but may be extended by another year if this will, for example, strengthen the individual’s potential to enter into work or ordinary education.

Initiative

Arba Inkludering

Close and binding business collaboration

Arba Inkludering

Learning points

Facts

Actors: Arba Inkludering, Ikea Slependen

Contact person: Lise Markant Kølbel, work-preparatory training, Arba Inkludering AS, telephone: +47 953 65 527, email: lko@arba.no, www.arba.no | www.arbaformidling.no

Purpose: Permanent employment for participants that need support to obtain and maintain a job.

Target group for initiative: Unemployed participants with reduced functional capacity, including 30 refugees and immigrants who are motivated to work in Ikea. Reasonable Norwegian skills and satisfactory physical health is required.

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: The initiative has included 20 refugees/immigrants with psychological challenges, including trauma.

Duration of initiative:

Initiative

Business Training

Holistic assessments through individually tailored work placement

Business Training

Learning points

Facts

Actors: Integrationsnet (part of the Danish Refugee Council) own and run the project.

Contact person: Maja Gammelgaard, Business Training, Integrationsnet, email: maja.gammelgaard@drc.ngo, telephone: +45 60202370

Purpose: To include socially marginalised refugees and traumatised refugees and reunited family members in the labour market of Southern Denmark.

Target group for initiative: The target group is refugees and reunited family members who received asylum in 2014 at the earliest and who do not benefit from the standard employment initiatives and who, for example, have physical, psychological or social challenges but not severe trauma or substance abuse.

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: 86 persons are or have been participating in the project. The project will accept 144 participants in total over a three-year period. The vast majority have trauma, and many have received or are receiving treatment for this.

Duration of initiative: The project period lasts from 01/10/2016 to 01/10/2019. An individual process in the project lasts 26 weeks with the possibility to extend up to 52 weeks.

Initiative

Framsteget

Thorough mapping of resources, needs of support, and interests of the individual participant

Framsteget

Learning points

Facts

Actors: Inda.nu

Contact person: Anna Bylin, email: anna.bylin@inda.nu, telephone: +46 70 7884440, www.inda.nu

Purpose: Participants start regular work or education.

Target group for initiative: People with non-Swedish ethnic background with reduced functional capacity or PTSD, or suspected reduced functional capacity/PTSD.

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: 14 (out of 25).

Duration of initiative: 1 year – 2016.

Initiative

Hela Familjen 2.0

Coordination and holistic view

Hela Familjen 2.0

Learning points

Facts

Actors: Malmö Municipality, Social Services in all five areas.

Contact person: Magnus Sjöberg, Hela Familjen 2.0, email: magnus.sjoberg@malmo.se, telephone: +46 708 306 559

Purpose: To promote employment and prevent future labour-related problems and social exclusion.

Target group for initiative: Adults with children in Malmö who have received social benefits for at least 24 months. Approximately 70% of participants come from refugee producing countries. They have been unemployed for at least 4 years, as the first 24 months is only counted after the two-year Swedish integration period.

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: It is estimated that approx. 30% of participating refugees have trauma-related problems. This equates to approximately 151 participants out of 719 adults in total in Hela Familjen 2.0.

Duration of initiative: The average enrolment period is 18 months but there is no time limit as long as the project continues.

Initiative

VAMOS – Trail of Involvement of Immigrant Youth

Coaching based on the young individual’s self-defined needs

VAMOS – Trail of Involvement of Immigrant Youth

Learning points

Facts

Actors: Helsinki Deaconess Institute

Contact person:

Purpose: To support social inclusion and the route to employment, education or other meaningful activities.

Target group for initiative: 16-29-year-olds with an immigrant background who are not working or pursuing education. The target group encompasses newly arrived, second generation immigrants and unaccompanied young people.

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: In total, 300 participants take part – or have taken part – in the project. It is not known how many of the migrants have a refugee background.

Duration of initiative: There is no time limit but the initiative usually lasts less than a half year. The project has been financed for the period 2016-2019.

Initiative

AVANTI

Holistic view and interdisciplinary cooperation on the participants’ individual plans

AVANTI

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Learning points

Facts

Actors: Malmö Stad (Malmö Municipality) project owner, coordinating authority. Komvux Södervärn – Swedish for Immigrants (Sfi). Six language teachers are involved in the project. Arbetsförmedlingen (Employment Service). Three job consultants are involved in the project Röda Korset (Red Cross) – Treatment Centre for Victims of War and Torture; Avanti has 40 places at the centre. Skåne Region, Refugee Health (Flyktinghälsan). Participates with a nurse and a doctor for guidance and information.

Contact person: Pia Werninge, email: pia.werninge@malmo.se, telephone: +46 709 442 605

Purpose: To enhance health, quality of life, language skills and knowledge of Swedish society and to support the target group in achieving economic self-reliance through work or education.

Target group for initiative: Participants from 18 years and older who are registered with the unemployment service, need Swedish language instruction and who – because of war-related trauma and/or migration-related stress – experience symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with, PTSD.

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: 102

Duration of initiative: It is possible to be enrolled for 18 months with the option of extension if progress has been made.

Initiative

IPS Integration

Systematic use of Individual Placement and Support and bicultural employees

IPS Integration

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Learning points

Facts

Actors: Human Recovery, a consulting company specializing in the IPS method.

Contact person: Lars Olaf Nielsen, email: lars@humanrecovery.dk, telephone: +45 51 90 56 06

Purpose: To assist participants with mental health diagnoses and psychological vulnerability to find work or begin education and thereby become wholly or partially economic self-reliant and achieve a significantly better quality of life.

Target group for initiative: Refugees and immigrants receiving different types of social benefits (integrationsydelse, kontanthjælp eller ressourceforløbsydelse). The primary obstacle to finding work must be psychological.

Number of participants with trauma in the initiative: Approximately 80 participants have completed the process.

Duration of initiative: Varies. The average duration for participants who find work is approximately 45 weeks.

Approaches

The study identifies various approaches to the employment oriented initiatives

Approach

Work first

Work first initiatives emphasise the start of regular working hours as quickly as possible with parallel training, support, and, in some cases, treatment.

Work first

Work first initiatives emphasise the start of regular working hours as quickly as possible with parallel training, support, and, in some cases, treatment.

Efforts are made toward a reduced and more strategic use of work placement than in the regular employment initiatives in the Nordic countries.

Work first initiatives are based on the methods of Supported Employment and Individual Placement and Support, where there is a high degree of evidence of the employment effects for other target groups.

The initiatives are based on participants’ own motivation and goals.

The initiatives in the Work First category are distinguished by being based on methods where there is evidence of the employment effects for other target groups.

Work on systematic follow-up on methodological fidelity in Supported Employment and with manual-based employment efforts in Individual Placement and Support are new tendencies in a professional area that traditionally emphasise the caseworker’s professional atitude.

Right now there is an ongoing randomised controlled trials with Supported Employment for refugees (with and without trauma) in Bergen. (Link: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/record/NCT03629366

Examples

Arbeid fra dag én

Arba Inkludering

IPS Integration

Approach

Vocational asessment

Vocational assessment initiatives explore the resources, challenges and motivation of participants

Vocational asessment

Vocational assessment initiatives explore the resources, challenges and motivation of participants and use the assessment as the starting point of an individually tailored process, with employment and health-oriented support.

These initiatives have a holistic approach and use both specific tools and work placement for the assessment.

Examples

Business Training

Framsteget

Approach

Holistic and interdisciplinary

Holistic and interdisciplinary initiatives work with coordinated and broad-spectrum support

Holistic and interdisciplinary

Holistic and interdisciplinary initiatives work with coordinated and broad-spectrum support.

The initiatives in this category are often directed toward participants with complex challenges.

The methods largely deal with supporting participants through labour market-oriented, healthcare and social activities running parallel to one another.

The focus is structure and coordination and keeping the entire life situation of the individual in mind.

Examples

Hela Familjen 2.0

AVANTI

Approach

Empowerment

Initiatives based on an empowerment approach are based on a mindset where participants are seen to be, and supported as, decisive actors in their own lives

Empowerment

Initiatives based on an empowerment approach are based on a mindset where participants are seen to be, and supported as, decisive actors in their own lives.

Through methods such as coaching, participants are strengthened in defining their own goals and needs and in being active in relation to handling their own health and employment situation.

This category also appears as a sub-element in the other categories of initiatives.

Examples

VAMOS – Trail of Involvement of Immigrant Youth

Recommendations

Practitioners will benefit from following four recomendations from the study

Recommendation

Invest

Investment is necessary and pays off

Investment is necessary and pays off

It is necessary to invest in the initiative for traumatised refugees to achieve results. All the examples of practice in the study were based on additional investment.

Several of the practices have documented the value of the extra investment through calculations of the socio-economic gains. The available business case calculations show that it pays off to invest in vulnerable and/or traumatised refugees. The business case calculations can provide inspiration as to how to argue for first time investments in the initiatives and show what is required to argue for moving from the project phase to operative implementation of the initiative.

Link to Business Case on Individual Placement and Support for Refugees versus standard employment efforts: https://pure.sfi.dk/ws/files/2066547/IPS_til_flygtninge.pdf

Recommendation

Tailor

The initiative must meet the individual needs of the participants

The initiative must meet the individual needs of the participants

More resources are the prerequisite for being able to spend time on individually tailored processes and support.

The practice examples show how more resources create less waiting time and more flow in cases, allowing time to identify resources, skills and motivation of participants and to create better and lasting matches with workplaces.

For an example of how additional resources enhances flow in cases take a look at the initiative Hela Familjen 2.0

Recommendation

Believe

The work demands a fundamental belief in the potentials of the target group

The work demands a fundamental belief in the potentials of the target group

Method is not everything. A key element in all the best practices described is that success is built on employees who have a fundamental belief in the possibility of traumatised refugees finding work.

It is important for being able to identify resources and skills of the individual, it is important for cooperating with companies on job matching, and it is important for supporting participants in the initiatives to identify their own resources in their life in exile, which can be complex and difficult.

Several of the practice examples point out that standard services experience challenges when assessing resources and obstacles among the target group. Several of those interviewed in the study encounter refugees who were assessed to have significantly more, fewer or entirely different challenges than they in fact have.

For an example of how to work with identifying and enhancing work related resources take a look at the initiative Business Training

Recommendation

Prepare

There is a need for long-term efforts and subsequent support

There is a need for long-term efforts and subsequent support

To be able to provide relevant support and lasting employment for a vulnerable target group the initiatives needs to be prolonged and continuous - and last also after employment has been achieved. The long-term support also concerns the follow up and collaboration with work places.

For examples of how to organize the collaboration with work places take a look at the initiatives Arba Inkludering and Arbeid fra dag én

About the project

Learn more about the purpose and the organisation of the study

About

Purpose

The aim of the project is to explore, qualify and strengthen effective employment approaches for traumatized refugees in the Nordic countries.

Effective employment approaches for traumatized refugees in the Nordic countries

The number of refugees is the highest since the aftermath of World War II, and an increasing number of refugees get residence in the Nordic countries. In order to strengthen both integration and the economy it is very important to ensure that a large group of these refugees gain employment in their new country of residence.

Unfortunately, reports show that refugees and family migrants have difficulty gaining employment in the Nordic countries compared to other groups of migrants. An analysis by OECD shows that even when controlling for key socio-demographic characteristics, employment performance of family migrants and refugees is below that of other groups.

Recent Danish studies show that health might also be a factor when explaining refugees’ lower employment performance. It is estimated that 30-45 % of the refugees in Denmark are traumatized and other studies show that 13-25 % of refugees in high income countries suffer from PTSD. A Danish study shows that only 10 % of refugees in treatment of PTSD are employed. Apart from the trauma symptoms, trauma can also be an impediment for gaining employment due to its negative effect on the ability to learn a new language.

There are only few studies that highlight methods about how to support employment of traumatized refugees and none that includes all the Nordic countries in one study.

Therefore the aim of this project is to: “explore, qualify and strengthen effective employment approaches for traumatized refugees and reunified spouses and partners in the Nordic countries”

The project will study approaches which are evaluated and have evidence for its effect, as well as approaches which are yet to be evaluated but have shown promising results. The newly developed instrument of ‘promising practice’ from The Danish National Centre for Social Research will be used as a measuring tool to evaluate and categorize the approaches. The project period is from February to December 2017.

The project consists of a desk study of existing literature on effective approaches and a study of promising approaches* used in the Nordic countries. The knowledge generated by the study will be shared through various channels and in a publication. The publication will be published by October 2018.

The study will be carried out in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Denmark. Representatives of each country will manage the project securing that new knowledge generated through the project will be disseminated and used in all of the Nordic countries.

Promising approaches is a term, that is developed and validated by the Danish National Research Center, VIVE (former SFI). To learn more about the tool go to this homepage (only in Danish)

About

Steering Comittee

The project is supervised by a steering comittee with representatives of the participating countries Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Steering Comittee

The project is supervised by a steering comittee with representatives of the participating countries Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark.

Finland

Ben Malinen
Head of Domestic Programme, Finnish Refugee Council

Sweden

Katarina Carlzén
Utviklingsansvarlig, Lännsstyrelsen, Skåne Län

Norway

Jens Lunnan Hjort
Analyserådgiver, Integrerings- og mangfoldsdirektoratet (IMDI)

Iceland

Guðlaug Hrönn Pétursdóttir
Directorate of Labour

Denmark

Karin Ingemann
Kontorchef, Styrelsen for International Rekruttering og Integration (SIRI)

Gratis temadag 12/11 2019

Rudersdal Kommune og Business Training er værter for en gratis temadag for kommunale medarbejdere om ”Beskæftigelsesindsatser for udsatte og traumatiserede flygtninge”. Dagen byder på formidling og diskussion af effektive metoder i det beskæftigelsesrettede arbejde med udsatte og traumatiserede flygtninge.

Hent invitationen

About the project

Workandtrauma.org is based on a study of effective employment initiatives for traumatised and vulnerable refugees at the Nordic labour markets. The study has been carried out in 2018 in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

The project is managed by Danish Refugee Council, The Knowledge Center for Vulnerable Refugees. The center collects and shares knowledge about vulnerable refugees in Denmark. For more info please visit www.udsatteflygtninge.dk.

© 2018 Danish Refugee Council

Contact

Anja Weber Stendal, senior advisor

+45 33 75 52 54

The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers