Here you can find a priliminary description of the new Action. It has already been revised by the the National Coordinators (member states). It is still a working document but the new Action will be adopted early next year.
Recognising potential – easing the way for newly arrived refugees
The inflow of refugees and migrants to the European Union has dramatically increased in 2015 compared to previous years mostly due to the civil war in Syria but also due to other conflicts in Africa and in the Middle East and from countries with no armed conflicts, such as northern and western Africa. The migratory influx has been reduced in 2016; however, the integration of third country nationals residing legally in the Member States continues to be a key challenge for Europe.
The number of first time asylum applicants in the EU in 2015 was in total 1 255 640. In the member states of the Baltic Sea Region, they vary notably: Germany 441 800; Denmark 21 316 (out of which 10.849 were granted residence permits); Estonia 225; Finland 32 150 (out of which 6 534 have so far been granted residence permits); Lithuania 275 (out of which 86 were granted residence permits); Latvia 328 (out of which 29 were granted resident permits, 6 granted refugee status and 23 subsidiary protection status); Poland 10 255; Sweden 156 110.
The increased number of refugees constitutes a challenge to those Member States where refugees choose to seek asylum. At the same time, many Member States struggle with demographic changes with an ageing population which within a decade will lead to a deficit of skilled workers – academic and non-academic - in for e.g. industry, health care and other sectors. This underlines the need for an effective integration of refugees in order for them to contribute to the building of inclusive, cohesive and prosperous societies which is of common interest to all Member States.
In particular, the refugees coming from Syria are young people, 90% under the age of 40 and 50% under the age of 20. Some of them are well educated and can take jobs in our countries.
Notwithstanding the work already undertaken through initiatives within the EU, such as the European Integration Network and the European Migration Forum, the Integration Action Plan and the Ministerial Conference on Integration, the rapid increase of migrants also calls for more cooperation between the national, regional and local authorities, organisations and civil society entrusted with the responsibility of integrating refugees. Complementary to, and supporting already existing initiatives, an effective system of collecting and making good practice available is also needed. Besides mutual learning there is also much to gain from developing new methods and new organisations together with others, across borders.
This Action focuses on:
- Exchange of best practice for the integration to the labour market e.g. through vocational education and training,
- Exchange of best practice for increased employability, smoothening integration into the society, and
- Developing and testing methods and systems, primarily to be used by local actors to facilitate integration on the labour market.
The foreseen actions are:
- a knowledge platform for exchange of experiences and development of new methods for increased employability, and
- development and testing joint trainings for key staff working with the target group.
The structured learning and development of new methods will take place in a so called knowledge platform. The platform will consist of thematic working groups where experts will gather for structured dialogue, learning from each other and joint development of new methods. The outcome of these processes will be documented and published on the website. Examples of thematic working groups are; civil society involvement (including the work with ethnic and religious communities and migrant NGOs), digital support (for example apps and games) and language training (focusing on methods for fast learning). In one of the thematic groups a joint training for key functions will be developed and tested. It is foreseen that key functions are coaches and mentors. Curricula’s with both theoretical parts and practical training will be developed and tested.
 Asylum application numbers according to: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/7203832/3-04032016-AP-EN.pdf/790eba01-381c-4163-bcd2-a54959b99ed6, 29.08.2016
 http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/File:Distribution_by_age_of_(non-EU)_first_time_asylum_applicants_in_the_EU_and_EFTA_Member_States,_2015_(%C2%B9)_(%25)_YB16.png, 29.08.2016