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including hands-on report and interview with Maria Virginia Gonzalez Romero, project manager of Abriendo Puertas

Determining your own path through life

An innovative job training scheme for volunteer counsellors from migrant organisations and communities empowers participants and assesses competencies.

Starting position/challenge

People are actively involved as volunteer counsellors in a large number of migrant organisations and ethnic communities. They operate in different cultural contexts and are also able to “translate” these. Their knowledge of the structures, processes and procedures in Germany means that they act as important multipliers, building bridges which help to achieve successful integration in society and in the labour market. In order to strengthen and exploit this potential, job training schemes for volunteer counsellors from migrant organisations and communities were initiated in Network IQ Bavaria – MigraNet.

Implementation of the job training scheme

In the Network IQ Bavaria – MigraNet, a procedure for assessing competencies entitled “KomBI career counselling” (competence-focused, biographical and intercultural) was developed and implemented on multiple occasions in 2009 as training for full­time counsellors in social institutions and pro viders. “KomBI career counselling” was assessed by the Warentest Foundation as the best of eleven tested competence assessment procedures. It provides counsellors with the tools of the trade for supporting individuals in the development of their professional prospects. Taking this as the starting point, managers of the subproject “Abriendo Puertas” at the organisation VIA Bayern e.V. designed the training for volunteer counsellors with a migration background in 2012. It is made up of “KomBI career counselling” which is translated into different languages, empowerment training and add itional training entitled “From counsellor to coach”.

The empowerment training is the main focus of the job training scheme. The content includes education on emancipation and social justice as an approach to diversity. Participants have the option, for example, of attending seminars on recognition of qualifications obtained abroad, on project management, and on the Recognition and Immigration Acts. Over the 17 days of the training, the scheme also prepares participants for project management and for delivering individual and group counselling. The goal is not simply for participants to learn new methods but also — using the training’s approach of self­reflection — to set in motion a sustainable learning process and to work on one’s own personal approach. Participants also develop strategies, including on how to deal with racist behaviour, as part of the continuing training.

Conclusion

Volunteer counsellors from migrant organ isations and communities represent an important resource for integration work in society and in the workplace. This is because, following their training, they provide even greater support to the selfhelp systems within informal networks. This makes an important contribution to improving the social participation of migrants and of the people for whom they provide counselling.

Addressees for transfer:

Migrant organisations, labour administrations, counselling centres, training providers and adult education institutions

A job training scheme for volunteer counsellors from migrant organisations and communities:

The training comprises KomBI career counselling [“KomBI” stands for competence-focused, biographical and intercultural], empowerment training and further training entitled “from counsellor to coach”. It connects migrants working as volunteer counsellors with the aim of improving their opportunities in the labour market. Participants are prepared in how to professionally conduct individual and group counselling in their migrant organisations and communities.

Project:

Abriendo Puertas – Opening doors

Organisation:

VIA Bayern e.V.

Project manager:

Maria Virginia Gonzalez Romero, Landwehrstr. 22, 80336 Munich, Tel.: 089/520 332 35, marvi.gonzalez(at)via-bayern.de