On 30 October 2018, SHARE Integration partner MigrAfrica welcomed 23 representatives from migrant-led associations, NGOs, local authorities and volunteer groups to the German city of Cologne, in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia, for a one-day SHARE roundtable meeting on labour market integration for refugees.
Roundtable participants were drawn from organisations active in integration for refugee resettlement and relocation in the smaller towns and municipalities surrounding Cologne, including Solingen (population 159,000), Meckenheim (population 25,000) and Bergisch Gladbach (population 112,000).
Participants subsequently broke into smaller discussion groups, to identify good practice and in their localities, and determine potential future actions to expand it. 'We used the Appreciative Inquiry approach to guide our discussion, which helped us focus on what's working and how we can multiply this practice', explains Abraham Nida of MigrAfrica. 'We identified some really strong elements of local practice, for example volunteers supporting labour market integration, former refugees communicating their employment experiences to new arrivals, and platforms to enable relevant actors to share information and knowledge'.
Based on the outcomes of these discussions, roundtable participants together developed a set of specific objectives for future labour market integration for refugees, and produced an implementation plan to achieve them. 'It was hugely positive to be able to bring this group together to exchange experiences and ideas in this crucial area of integration' says Abraham. 'We have already presented out findings and planning to a conference on labour market integration, held in Cologne on 30 November and attended by over 150 participants. We're really looking forward to building further on the outcomes of the roundtable in the future and - ultimately - further improving access to employment for refugees across North Rhine-Westphalia.'