What is the responsibility of adult education in promoting sustainable integration of migrants?
Globally migration has become an integral part of every society. People migrate for economic, social, political, educational, health and environmental reasons – also because of climate change. With the international trend, migration in Finland is on the rise noticeably. According to Statistics Finland, almost 268,000 foreign citizens lived in Finland in the year of 2019.
Migration is an undeniable phenomenon in this globalized world. Essentially it urges the world to pay more attention for sustainable integration towards ensuring a sustainable society. The sustainable society functions efficiently when social diversity is considered in the design of a society. Making a society sustainable also means improving equity and quality for all in different sections. Education, as one of the important strategies for strengthening solidarity and welfare in society, opens the door of a sustainable future for everyone to be able to learn and to act effectively as a whole.
What should we consider when we talk about sustainable integration?
Migrant integration is a two-way process that needs major efforts and openness in both ends. Recognition can be a strategy to bridge two-way processes for sustainable migrant integration. The recognition of the role of the migrant community, skills and qualification acceptance, accessibility in the labour market and equality from host society are very important in the sustainable integration process. On the other hand, openness and eagerness to learn for competence building, possible adjustment or flexibility and adaptability in society are also significant from migrants.
In Finland emphasizing increasing employability has been the most important integration strategy. Although integration services, especially the educational and employment pathways of immigrants, have been in recent years strongly developed in Finland, the immigrants still struggle to find work. According to Minister of Employment:
“people with an immigrant-background name receive far fewer invitations to job interviews, even if their education, work experience and language skills are the same as those of other applicants”Tuula Haatainen, in Yle News.
Higher rates of unemployment and experienced obstacles in the labour market question the sustainable Finnish society.
Adult and vocational education and training are responsible for skill development of immigrants. However, there is a debate that highly educated and skilled immigrants are underestimated in the integration process and that the lack of recognition of qualifications results in unemployability of many highly educated immigrants. Furthermore, Finland invests for immigrant’s higher education, but it seems there is not enough sustainable effort in enhancing graduates’ employability in a sustainable way (for more information).
Considering gender aspects in the integration process in a sustainable way is also significant. According to previous studies (and also see Finnish institute for health and welfare) immigrant women often experience a greater disadvantage in the labour market compared to men in Finnish labour market due to gender and ethnic inequality. Gender role and traditional stereotypes within the family and community also contributed in accessing of women in the labour market. Maintaining gender balance is also of great importance for improving equality and sustainability as well as well-being. Preference for one gender can lead to conflict and stress the balance in the family or in a community, and therefore in turn affect society as a whole.
Sustainable integration: From mutual involvement to unity
According to the previous studies we suggest that in addition to the adult education and training program as pillars of integration, the involvement of business associations and employers in the integration program could facilitate and enhance the possibility of migrants’ employability effectively. Moreover, this could work for changing the social attitudes toward sustainable society which benefits all its potentials.
Secondly there should be an even greater focus on addressing and involving gender and cultural issues in immigrant education and employability integration programs. It means that the goals of the integration in adult education should be in a way that empowering the employability of one gender strengthens also the employability of the other one. This improves the integration process of the whole family unity.
Ultimately, we would question whether it is sufficient to achieve the competencies only through higher and adult education and vocational training or whether this should be accompanied by other strategies that take more into account the increasing diversity in the society? For example, the experience and background of immigrants can benefit the whole society.
It seems that new and modified approaches to training and internships are needed to ensure the employability of migrants in the culture and context that is new to them. This could be implemented by complementing education and training programs based on European qualifications with context-specific qualifications. However, this would require the development of additional qualification criteria that consider immigrants’ previous work experience, education, and skills as well as cultural norms. All this should lead to new opportunities and ideas for new professions and entrepreneurship, high quality jobs, and thus further improve and increase the sustainability and quality of life of a society in terms of integration.
In a nutshell, consideration of the issues raised above in designing integration approaches and curriculum of vocational and adult education could strengthen the path of migrant integration more sustainably for the benefit of Finnish society.
For more interests, read and see the following materials:
Jami Negassa, 2015. The Employability of Highly Educated Foreigners in
Finland: Experiences of the Foreign Degree Students of
the Aalto University School of Business. Aalto University.
Katarzyna Kärkkäinen, 2017. Learning, teaching and integration of adult migrants in Finland. University of Jyväskylä.
Anna Loukkola, 2020. Kuinka moni Suomessa tutkinnon suorittanut ulkomaalaistaustainen jää tänne töihin. Statistics Finland.
Ronald W. McQuaid & Colin Lindsay, 2005. The Concept of Employability. Sage Publishing.
Golaleh Makrooni is a PhD researcher in Education and Society and a member of EquJust -research group at the Faculty of Education and Culture at Tampere University and currently working as a researcher on the Komeetta – culturally inclusive mentoring for immigrants – project. She is also a lecturer and coordinator for an online course at the Finnish University Partnership for International Development. She completed professional teacher education program at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK). Her research interest is teacher education and pedagogy, sustainable development, migration and education.
Shafiqul Alam is Professor in the department of Public Administration, Islamic University, Bangladesh. He has completed PhD degree in Administrative Sciences from the Faculty of Management, Tampere University. Currently he is a researcher in EquJust -research group in Tampere University and previously worked as an experiential expert in International Tampere Hub -project. He is interested in waste management and circular economy, environmental education and sustainable development, and immigration governance and forced migration.
Nasrin Jinia is researcher and member of EquJust -research group at the Faculty of Education and Culture at Tampere University. Currently she is working as an expert on the MESH international project at Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK ). The aim of this project is empowering immigrants through mentoring and networking. Nasrin has completed professional teacher education from TAMK in 2019. She is PhD research fellow from the Faculty of Management at University of Tampere. Nasrin has been working as an education officer in the Ministry of Primary and Mass Education at The People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Freedom and Responsibility of Adult Education (SVV) -program will be publishing a blog by the name Sivistystori in 2021. In the blog, researchers and experts of liberal adult education and SVV’s partners with an interest in general knowledge and education write about educational work and the importance of general knowledge and education in society. The blog will be published on SVV’s website approximately once a week.