The Di&Di project (2013-2015) is developed by six partners in five European countries: Bulgaria, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland. Its main aim is to implement new strategies for a successful professional integration of low-qualified female migrants and qualified young migrants. The project does not address specifically migrants having a refugee status, but the approach and the lessons learned will be invested and transferred in the current context of the refugee crisis, in order to contribute to the necessary common effort for inventing new inclusion models in multicultural societies.

The Di&Di was tested and adapted to five national and local contexts characterised by considerable differences with regard to migration and labour markets.

Three of the countries involved in the project (Germany, France and Italy) are among the five European countries which currently receive the largest number of asylum applications. In 2014, this number has risen by 25 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.

Switzerland, a non-EU country, is facing the same inclusion problems as EU-members but starting from a less developed and more restrictive legal framework on anti-discrimination and migration.

With the escalation of the conflict in Syria in 2013, Bulgaria, which since 2007 is an external border of the EU, faced an unprecedented situation to deal with. In 2013, the number of applications reached 7000 and during the next years continual to grow. Till the end of September 2015 the applicant for asylum are 12738. More than half of them came from Syria, followed by citizens of Afghanistan (SAR statistics, 2015). As a result of the unprecedented peak in asylum seekers in Bulgaria, those arriving in the country are confronted by institutional collapse, political and media ostracism and growing social tension.  In a very short time, the reception facilities are filled way over capacity, the procedure for examination of the applications is hampered by difficulties during the proceedings and available expertise proves to be extremely limited.

Beyond the context differences, there are common challenges: in the five European countries, all this is happening against a background of a public debate, which is dominated by extreme populist discourse, promoting a negative attitude towards refugees and foreigners on the whole.

The Di&Di project address the challenge of migrants’ access to employment and their incorporation into the labour market, considered as a key aspect for integration. It should be pointed out that European statistics show considerable differences in EU countries between the employment rates of nationals (EU citizens living in their country of origin) and foreign migrants. In 2011, the unemployment rate of non-EU citizens was 11.1 points higher than that of the nationals. This gap continued to increase until 2013 but was reduced to 10.7 in 2014. The unemployment rates were also higher, by 2 points in 2014, for mobile EU-citizens compared to nationals.

With regard to the gender dimension, significant differences are observed in unemployment rates between female and male non-EU migrants on one hand, and between female non-EU migrants and female nationals on the other hand. This gap is very high in almost all the EU member states and indicates that female non-EU migrants are the most exposed to precariousness in the EU labour market.

Youth is another population strongly concerned by unemployment in the European Union. European residents aged 15-29 were the most affected by the unemployment increase between 2007 and 2014. If this is true also for the native-born young population, the increase was significantly higher for non-EU born young population, with an unemployment rate rising to 28% in 2014 from 15.8% in 2008.

Many factors explain the higher unemployment rate of foreign migrants compared to the EU-native born citizens in European countries. Discrimination is an important one. Prejudices, based on origin, nationality, appearance and religion, often lead to the unequal treatment of migrant workers or jobseekers in the labour market. Female and young migrants are particularly affected, since they are also exposed to discrimination based on gender and age.

Anti-discrimination has been an important topic on the European agenda for the last 15 years. The legal framework became strengthened in 1999 with the Treaty of Amsterdam, whose Article 13 was specifically concerned with the fight against discrimination. In 2000, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, in its Article 21.1, identified a list of criteria for illegal discrimination.

That same year, the Council Directive 2000/43/EC of June 29th implemented the principle of equal treatment among persons, without distinction of “race” or ethnic origin. The Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 then established a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. The legal measures against sexist discrimination were also reinforced with the Council and Parliament Directive 2002/73/CE of 23 September 2002. This common legal framework was then transferred to Member States’ legislation. Ambitious programs like EQUAL, developed during 2000-2008, allowed for the funding and implementation of tools, as well as experimentation and new practices on the issue of equal treatment.

However, there are other factors that also need to be taken into account to explain the unemployment rate of foreign migrants in the European Union. For example, the lack of recognition of their competences and qualifications acquired abroad, their lower knowledge of the “implicit rules” of the European labour market, such as those linked to self-presentation strategies, and the lack of insertion into professional networks.

Description of the initiative

Building on this framework and general context, the Di&Di project, launched in 2013, intended to develop and test new methods for supporting the professional inclusion of migrants through anti-discrimination training and the promotion of diversity.

The project aimed at elaborating training and mentoring strategies to support the target publics professional inclusion in the labour market. Its objectives were to:

  • Enhance the target publics capacities, while preventing discrimination risks
  • Highlight the informal competences and those acquired through a migratory experience
  • Develop knowledge on obstacles and difficulties faced by migrants for accessing the European labour markets, through a bottom-up approach

One of the main particularities of the project was its choice of target audience. The project was indeed focused on female low-qualified migrants and qualified young migrants, both considered to need specific support. These two populations are strongly exposed to unemployment, precariousness and discrimination risks. Furthermore, their profiles are more and more represented into current migrations towards Europe. Potential employers and professionals supporting migrants’ professional inclusion are also included as target publics of the project.

To reach the above mentioned objectives, the six European partners developed:

  • A training programme, directly addressing these two target audiences, focussing on their empowerment through awareness-raising on discrimination risks, better knowledge of their rights, and tools and methods to promote their migration experience as a specific competence in the labour market. A European prototype for the training program was elaborated by the partners in 2014, starting from the innovative approach of the Migrapass project (Autremonde, iriv et al., 2010-2012, http://migrapass.eu), focused on the evaluation of migrants’ competences through the implementation of a specific portfolio. The common training model was then adapted, tested and completed in each national and local context.
  • A mentoring programme, addressing employment professionals and those working with migrant populations, aiming at developing their knowledge on anti-discrimination, as well as the specific difficulties and strengths of the target audiences. The mentoring process also intended to collect and share tools, methods, case studies and best practices to strengthen the mentors’ capacity to support the target populations’ professional inclusion. A European model of the mentoring programme was developed to be adapted, experimented and completed in each country of the project. This common mentoring model transferred the results and innovative approach of Enda Europe’s Diversity Plus project (2006-2010, diversiteplus.enda-europe.org), focused on the roles and practices of companies, trade unions, local authorities and associations on anti-discrimination and diversity promotion.
  • Steering committees with experts in the fields of employment, diversity promotion and anti-discrimination, where the partners shared the lessons learned during the Di&Di process and collected new feedback and advice.

Implementation of the initiative

The six European partners of the project worked in different contexts and professional frameworks: Enda Europe (France) and Centre for Immigration and Integration (Bulgaria) are NGOs, the Istituto per l’Europa Orientale e Balcanica (Italy) is a university institute; Bildungsmarkt ev. (Germany), iriv conseil (France) and ECAP Foundation (Switzerland) are professional learning organisations.

Enda Europe was the leader of this project (funded by the European Commission / Programme Leonardo-TOI) and ensured the coordination of the European activities (European meetings, dissemination activities…). The complementarities of the professional competences and environments of the six partners is a specific strength of the project. Responsibilities and roles are shared equitably among the partners, following their specific fields of expertise.

Resources dedicated to the initiative

Financial sources

Overall budget: 378 379,00€

Main financer: European Commission – Leonardo da Vinci / Transfert of Innovation Programme

Human resources dedicated to the initiative

6 teams (composed by 1 to 3 persons) in 5 European countries


  • Training and Mentoring:
    Implementation of European prototypes for the Mentoring and Training programmes including contributions by the six partners, collection of case studies and best practices.
    At the national levels, according to their individual profile –whether a research institute in Paris or Forlì, a vocational training centre in Switzerland or Berlin or a development agency in Sofia or Paris – the project partners completed their portfolio by new methodologies, training and mentoring offers. Along with a common prototype of the Di&Di training and mentoring concept, five Di&Di-packages are available, which illustrate different local models of implementation and serve as practical tools to implement similar courses within other organisations, professional contexts and local contexts.
  • Experimentation of the programmes with the target groups (20 to 30 migrants and 20 professionals in each country):
    The impact of the experimentation on the target groups has been measured through appropriate indicators (interviews, assessment questionnaires) in each countries. A core aspect in the experimentation of the Di&Di training and mentoring was empowerment. The facilitated entanglement of different perspectives, the choice of a wide range of participatory methods, the active and partly controversial examination of the phenomena of discrimination and ways to handle them, the reflection of competences as an asset to diversity – all these helped to sharpen one’s self-perception, self-confidence and become more aware of one’s own position by effectively using information, strategies and tools. Now, a few months after the experimentation, jobseekers can present refined professional pathways, “either answering job offers or being contacted for other jobs, finding a job starting a VPL process, creating a professional activity” (France), trainers have “reflected and refined the methods and materials they use in job integration and train the trainer/mentor courses” (Germany), migrant women “gather more actively the information and tools they need to push their integration into the local society and work” (Italy) or job tutors and employers “started to be attentive to discrimination as an issue in the world of work” (Bulgaria). Di&Di initiated processes at various levels, always depending on the individual starting point and the local public discourse. This way it addressed the gaps regarding action against discrimination and for diversity.
  • Networks:
    The experimentation in the five regions allowed the identification of the most strategic field of intervention to develop anti-discrimination and diversity programmes: network-building and direct cooperation among professionals and institutions. This leads to better knowledge and validation of each other’s work and contribution. In the organisation of the training and the mentoring, accompanied by local steering committees, Di&Di established contacts between organisations: the Di&Di partners with various private and public stakeholders on integration and labour market issues, the stakeholders among themselves, contacts between professionals, mentors to mentors, company owners to company owners, public servants to public servants, and across the professional fields, as well as contacts between the target groups and those who are ”managing” their integration.
  • Communication and dissemination:
    Publications in specialised reviews and contributions to events were ensured in each country, 5 national weblogs and the European website di-di.eu allowed to disseminate the process and results.

Critical success factors

The Di&Di project was very helpful for finding indications, strategies, opportunities and obstacles which could be used by any European actor willing to develop and implement a similar type of training programme. The necessity of going beyond specificities emerged in each Country and some general guidelines and areas for improvement were found.

In general, given that “discrimination” is quite a complex and ambiguous concept, that can be hardly recognisable in a working environment, dealing with the issue was a challenge itself.

The involvement of associations, migrant communities and strategic institutions turned out to be a valuable strategy for reaching key beneficiaries and producing an effective analysis of their needs. Additionally, linking Di&Di experimentation to other existing paths and courses was helpful for the recruitment process and the project’s sustainability.

With regards to the training path, the modular approach of the model was a strength because it allowed to meet the target groups’ needs and to alter the arguments, timeframe and strategies depending on the specific target, while maintaining a common concept. Furthermore, the definition of specific and common thematic modules, allowed each partner to focus on and share the main issues and to, at the same time, insert each path in a European framework.

Participants were able to increase their knowledge about discrimination on the labour market and they acquired new understandings and skills to overcome it. This result was reached thanks to the reflective and interactive methods and the experiences exchanged with other participants. The active bottom-up approach and the use of didactical tools allowed students develop abstract and multidimensional concepts from their personal and concrete experiences (case studies, problem based learning, mind mapping, scaffolding strategies, etc…). Furthermore, the proposed “active perspective” allowed participants to develop two aspects: a pure learning process on one side and a “can do” attitude (“I know, I know how to act, I can act”) on the other side. In general, the empowerment process succeeded.

Joining, in the same learning process, two heterogeneous target groups (low qualified women and highly qualified youth) using their differences as a starting point for perspective exchange and discussions was a big challenge of the project. Although this approach was considered a good strategy to foster cooperation between participants, it brought out some difficulties in finding a common approach to satisfy their different expectations and learning attitudes, given their different levels of language proficiency and education. Each partner dealt with this particular challenge using a personalized path based on participants’ skills and knowledge, through personal interviews or, in some cases, with the support of mediators and tutors.

With regards to the Mentoring course, putting together professionals from different fields was a productive and stimulating choice and generated very useful information and interesting exchanges of experience.

Additionally, the participative pedagogical approach guaranteed the active involvement of mentors, providing a theoretical framework for generating new perspectives and a deeper comprehension of the phenomena. Furthermore, allowing participants to think together to find practical strategies for future action was another element of success.

The heterogeneous composition of groups creates a basis for future networks of professionals working in different fields. Furthermore, once they attended the course, participants may offer valuable testimonies of new strategies and processes.

Biggest obstacles

The involvement of private sector representatives (i.e. companies, interim agencies, etc…) and professionals was quite a challenging task for two main reasons. One the one hand, they usually have little time to dedicate to this kind of topic. On the other hand, they tend to have a poor opinion of such endeavours. In order to overcome these difficulties it would be necessary to use networks of professionals and institutional connections. Furthermore, focusing on diversity, a cross-section of the target group and the project’s interests could help to involve people not initially interested in the specific topic of anti-discrimination.

The time schedule was a key factor for the Mentoring course too: as aforementioned, professionals lack time and, hence, it would be better to concentrate the course during a short period of time.

Both courses had some foreseen learning outcomes (changing perspectives through cooperation and exchange, being aware of discrimination practices related to origin, race or ethnicity, acquiring useful competencies related to a migratory background, implementing innovative strategies and tools to handle discrimination on the labour market) that are characterised by a long term perspective. Hence, it is only possible to partially measure their impact during the project implementation. Therefore, it would be necessary to organise a follow-up, giving participants the opportunity to attend a course with a more extensive programme and considering the possibility of providing updated teaching materials.

The organisation

Enda Europe is a non-profit organization, created in 1977 to support Enda Third World’s commitment in the fight against poverty and the promotion of sustainable development.
In coherence with  Enda Third World’s vision and policy, Enda Europe’s action is based on the idea that most countries in the world face challenges which are different in their symptoms but similar in their roots: environmental degradation, lack of inclusion of marginalised social groups, violence in many forms, increasingly complex economic, political and social relations and inequalities in the distribution of resources. Together with several members of Enda’s international network, Enda Europe experiment solutions to these challenges. Its work aims at increasing the awareness of North-South inter-dependances through circulation of ideas, practices and social innovations.

In the developing countries (in Asia, South America and Africa), Enda Europe supports Enda’s entities in the fields of urban environment and social inclusion of popular workers, of gender equality and of social and economic emancipation of women.

In Europe, Enda Europe supports migrants’ organisations and works with public authorities on migratory policies, co-development, as well as inclusion and civic participation of migrants. It also develops education for sustainable development programmes with students and professionals.