The municipality needs a better service for newly arrived refugees with higher education or long work experience. This is to use their competence in a faster and better way and at the same time solve the municipality’s tasks.
Instead of participating in the introduction programme, newly settled refugees were put straight to work from day one. The municipality employed the refugees in 2-year project positions at various service locations where they were allowed to use their skills or experience. Adapted training in the Norwegian language and social studies was incorporated into the work. Each participant had a mentor in the workplace who assisted them with their training and explained the formal and informal rules in the workplace. The “Straight to work” project was implemented in the period 2017-2019.
The project produced excellent results. Nine out of ten participants who started in the project in 2017 have a job today. The municipality established a method of putting new refugees straight to work, where there was good and relevant language training for the participants – either after or during working hours. The participants gained relevant work experience, networks and fast progression in Norwegian language training. The municipality received important expertise that they need for their problem-solving.
Objective and target group
The main objective was to develop a method that provides good integration of newly arrived refugees with higher education or work experience. This was done by connecting refugees early to an ordinary work situation. The initiative had several sub-goals:
- To give refugees Norwegian language training in a Norwegian speaking working environment in addition to Norwegian evening classes.
- To provide the resources the municipality needs to solve its challenges and tasks.
- To develop a mentoring programme to ensure sound follow-up of participants in the workplace and professionalise the mentor role in the municipality.
The target group was newly arrived refugees with higher education or long work experience. Competence mapping and individual interviews were conducted to find out whether the participants in question could communicate a little in Norwegian or English, had the potential for fast progression in Norwegian language training and whether the person in question could attend Norwegian lessons in the evening.
About the initiative
The initiative consists of three phases:
- Mapping: The individual’s needs and resources were mapped early. Relevant participants submitted CVs and certificates and had interviews with employees in the project and the employers. This was important to clarify expectations and to find a good match between the participant and place of work. The individual’s education, experience and personal qualities were utilised in the workplace.
- Tailoring: Each participant must be allowed to develop and feel a sense of achievement in the workplace. To achieve this, the working day was adapted to the individual. The tasks were evaluated and adjusted in step with the individual’s development. The Norwegian language training was adapted to the individual in cooperation with Fjell adult education. For example, some people might benefit more from having Norwegian lessons early in the day than in the evening. The objectives for the individual’s future job and education wishes were also altered along the way - when the participants wanted this.
- Close follow-up: The individual participant, mentor and employer received close follow-up in the project. Some employers needed regular meetings once a month, others less frequently. Project employees had close contact with the mentors, both by email and by phone. The participants were followed up closely during periods with weekly guidance interviews where project employees used motivational interviews as methodology. Career guidance was also an important part of the project.
It is referred to as a success factor for the project that the participants were paid. At the end of the project, they also received CVs and references, language skills and relevant work experience that will be useful in their further education or job.
Ten participants have participated in the “Straight to work” project in Fjell municipality.
Organisation and economy
The project received support from the chief municipal executive, the municipality’s management team and trade unions. The strong leadership support meant that cooperation at all levels in the organisation worked well.
The municipality has used one full-time equivalent in the refugee service to follow-up ten participants. The start-up phase may require some additional resources. There have been two project employees (project manager and project employee) who have followed up the work and cooperated with the various service locations that have had participants in work. The municipality has received project funding from the County Governor and IMDi, which has covered the wages of the two employees.
The municipality used the integration grant to cover the participants’ wages. The wage budget of the individual service location was thus not debited concerning wages to the participants in the project. Resource allocation to mentors corresponds to what is required when following up a new employee. The “Straight to work” project has only resulted in the ordinary use of resources for the adult education unit.
The “Straight to work” project has produced good results and has provided the participants with valuable work experience and networks. The participants have also learned the Norwegian language quickly as this has been necessary to be able to do the job.
The “Straight to work” project also provided the municipality with manpower to solve tasks they would otherwise have lacked the resources to solve. The project gave the municipality ten additional full-time equivalents and this provides a strengthening of the municipalities’ services.
- The “Straight to work” project produced good results in the form of a high transition to work for the project’s participants. The participants also received CVs, references, knowledge of Norwegian working life and larger networks.
- The “Straight to work” project met the needs and objectives of the municipality.
- The project has been well-documented and the municipality has prepared a method manual for others who want to do the same.
- The initiative does not require special expertise that must be acquired in case other municipalities wish to use it.
- The “Straight to work” project was financially beneficial for both the municipality and the participants.
- The project is transferable to other municipalities but requires a high degree of support from the municipality’s management.
About the assessment
IMDi’s quality assurance of best practice has been based on systematic assessments according to given criteria.
The criteria are:
- Result – what result does the practice produce?
- Descriptions – is the practice well described?
- Economy – what resources are required to implement the practice?
- Transferability – is it possible to implement the practice elsewhere?
The perspective on knowledge-based practice forms the basis for IMDI’s best practice work. It means that practices are assessed based on: Research-based knowledge, experience-based knowledge and user knowledge.
IMDi’s work on best practice is based on Rambøll’s report Model for identification and dissemination of best practice
Name: Monica Pedersen
Position and place of work: Unit Leader, the Refugee Service, Øygarden municipality
Tel.: +47 90 78 86 12