Language Courses, Vocational Training and Guidance for Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Italy

Project location: Italy, Rome
Project start date: December 2015 - Project end date: November 2016
Project number: 2015-040
Beneficiary: Fondazione Il Faro di Susanna Agnelli


Syria, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Ukraine: these are just some of the countries today interested by chronic warfare and ethnic conflicts. At the end of 2014 there were 33 active wars and 16 United Nations peacekeeping operations in the world. A dramatic situation which causes every day humanitarian crisis and migrations of millions of people fleeing persecutions, violence, grinding poverty. In 2014, for the first time since Second World War, people forced to leave their native lands were more than 50 million worldwide.
In the EU-28 during the first six months of 2015 around 400.000 applications for asylum have been submitted: a very relevant number if compared with the previous year, when the applications received during the entire 2014 were in total 600.000. As it is known, not every forced displacement ends with a new begin in a peaceful country: 2.748 people only in 2015 have died desperately trying to reach Europe.
In 2014 refugees who lived in Italy were 78,000 while asylum applicants were 65,000, 60 per cent of them received protection statuses. During the current year, more than 130,000 asylum seekers and migrants have arrived at Italian coasts, mainly from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Sirya.
After their landing of course they immediately need emergency relief assistance, healthcare and legal assistance. But even when they receive the legal status of refugee, they still remain vulnerable people, who have to find the means and the tools to build their new lives live in a host country.  
First hindrance they face, of course, is the scarce knowledge of the Italian language. As the President of Republic Sergio Mattarella has recently stated, “Italian language can be a vehicle for integration between native citizens and migrants who live in our country: knowledge can break walls down, preventing cultural and linguistic ghettos”.
Another obstacle they encounter is the difficulty to find a job: a difficulty which is not only due to their personal and legal conditions.
The “Global Financial Crisis” which affected almost every part of the world has caused in Europe a significant decline in many economic activities, reflecting negatively on the labour market.
In Italy, in particular, from 2008 to 2014, 82,000 companies failed, bringing as an early consequence a loss of  1 million places of work.
Especially young job-seekers face today a very hard competition to find a job, as it is demonstrated that “youth unemployment rates are generally much higher, even double or more than double, than unemployment rates for all ages” (Eurostat, Unemployment Statistics 2015) .
In Italy the rate of youth unemployment (aged between 15 to 24) has reached in 2015 40.5 per cent, amounting to 626.000 young unemployed people. According to Eurostat Unemployment Statistics (referred to September 2015), it is one of the worst results in the EU-28 area: Italy is today one of the Member State with the higher youth unemployment rate, together with Greece (51,8%), Spain (48,6%) and Croatia (43,1%).
So refugees in Italy are doubly disadvantaged people: because of their subjective conditions and of their dramatic past and because of the Italian negative economic trends, which condition of course job market.
Immigration and Welfare policies, together with “integrated reception” (i.e. Italian third sector), are not sufficient to support refugees during their social-economic integration path. So it is crucial that they acquire as soon as possible self autonomy: first of all, a job and the capacity to act and interact within the local area they live in. 
The risks whom they are exposed are social marginality, poverty and the impossibility to have their right chance to go beyond suffering and oppression.

The project will include different activities: language courses, vocational training and guidance, business training and training on the job.
Beneficiaries will be 30 young refugees and asylum seekers (17 to 30 year old) recently arrived in Italy. In particular, they will be supported immediately after the first phase of medical assistance and legal tutoring: a crucial moment, when they need to acquire self-autonomy and to integrate in the host society by learning Italian and getting shortly a job.
The first activity, language courses, will be implemented by organizing Italian courses for the beneficiaries, in order to develop their basic skills at understanding and communicating in Italian and to facilitate their involvement in the professional courses. The didactic term will last 3 months, each class will be composed by 15 students. At the end of the period the beneficiaries will be able to take the exam for the certification of Italian language level A2 (International language standards).
The second activity is vocational training for pizza makers and kitchen assistants: professional fields that give very good chances of employability in Italy, as a recent international survey confirms (ManpowerGroup, “Talent Shortage Survey 2015”). Moreover, for the “Holy Year of Mercy” - which will start in December 2015 - the official evaluations estimate that 33 million tourists will arrive in Rome: an event that will surely have a positive impact on Italian hospitality and restoration industry.
The courses will last two months, for an amount of 148 hours divided into a short theoretical introduction and a prevalent practical part, according to “learning by doing” method. Lessons will include a workshop about food safety management system HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) which will be attested by an official certification.
Each class will be composed by 15 students. The teachers will be professionals with a relevant experience in teaching to vulnerable young people. Moreover, students will be followed during the whole didactic period by a cross-cultural mediator and a psychologist who will facilitate learning and teamwork.
Because of the shortness of the courses, it will be requested compulsory attendance. At the end of the term, the beneficiaries will get a certificate of attendance.
Together with the professional training, Il Faro will organize guidance activities and counseling, in order to improve students employability skills. The main subjects will be: simulations of job interviews, CV and cover letters, employment contracts in Italy.
The beneficiaries who will reach an adequate skill level after training will have the opportunity to spend a period of 50 hours of on the job training. Il Faro will play a sort of role of guarantee by matching students and firms and by mentoring trainees with a “on the job” tutor who will facilitate their relationships with the employer and colleagues.
Il Faro will regularly control the fulfillment of project activities with tools such as attendance books, teaching plans and reports, midterm and final exams.

This project marks the sixth year of financial support by the Nando and Elesa Peretti Foundation for "Il Faro". The main achievement of the project is to reduce poverty and social exclusion of young refugees and asylum seekers who live in Rome by giving them the right tools to gain self-sufficiency and independency.
The second outcome is to improve social cohesion, by changing common prejudices about forced migrants – often considered as a “problem” - in knowledge of the real role they play in society: active subjects and wealth makers.


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