02 SES 14 B, Integration Into New Learning and Working Cultures
The position of underrepresented groups in the labour market is explained as a consequence of either discrimination or lack of relevant social capital, language skills, job search strategies and job skills, to name a few (Tovatt, 2013; Vesterberg, 2015; Lasonen & Teräs, 2015). Generally, studies in this area tend to focus on obstacles that migrants face in the labour market. This study, however, focuses on “successful migrants”, who have entered their previous vocations in Sweden. The overall objective of the study* is to identify mechanisms that can contribute to a sustainable integration of skilled migrants in their vocations in Sweden. By skilled migrants, we mean persons with vocational skills from their country of origins.
In this presentation, we report an on-going study and the following research questions will be addressed: What kinds of factors do facilitate the skilled migrants’ access to their previous vocation? What kinds of pathways did the skilled migrants take to reenter their vocation in Sweden?
In this study, we adopt a socio-cultural perspective. Vocational knowledge develops in a specific context, which means that the majority of migrants, irrespective of their experience, may be located to the periphery of their community of practices when they arrive to Sweden. The pathway to get an employment in their previous vocation can be described as an appropriation process, conquering cultural tools, vocational language, artefacts and local rules (Säljö, 2015). In socio-cultural perspective (e.g., Rogoff, 1995) appropriation is not just about learning knowledge, it is also about learning ideas, conceptions and experiences of the activity in question. In this theoretical perspective, to get an employment can be facilitated by a successful appropriation of cultural vocational practices.
* This presentation is part of a larger research project called “Integration and Inclusion of Migrants in and Through Vocation and Work” and funded by The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare (FORTE) Grant 2019-00832.
We have conducted 18 semi-structured interviews with skilled migrants from different vocational areas such as health care sector (nurses), construction sector (construction workers), restaurant sector (chefs) and childcare (teachers). Furthermore, four interviews with employers were gathered. Purposeful sampling and a snow ball technique were used to reach the interviewees. The interviews lasted 20-50 minutes. The interviews were conducted by Zoom or mobiles phones and were recorded and transcribed. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the interview materials. The main focus of the interviews was on skilled migrants’ experiences of accessing and making a career in their vocations in Sweden. We were interested in their pathways back to their vocations and their views of the factors that had supported their way back to employment/work. From the employers' perspective, we focused on migrants' integration into workplaces. During the study, ethical guidelines of the Swedish Research Council has been followed such as informed consent, confidentiality and voluntary participation. In addition, the Swedish Ethical Review Authority has accepted the study.
Our preliminary results suggest that migrants’ access to work and their previous vocation were different, depending on when they arrived in Sweden and for what reasons. In addition, different vocational areas have different pathways. Many migrants had been allowed to stay in Sweden because of their success to find an employment, but they had not been recruited because of their vocational knowledge. Instead, they were often employed in work that did not require an education. Typically, interviewees started with language training courses offered to migrants. Some had already started to work during the language training, but on lower level than their education allowed. A common feature among the informants was the emphasis of their own self-motivation and fighting spirit as one of the factors that had supported their access to work. Some of them talked about their own goals leading them to the desirable outcome. Their stories also included difficulties, but even when they despaired, they described how they had struggled forward towards their goals. Other supportive factors had been helpful teachers and managers, other migrants, courses in entrepreneurship and an education where language training was combined with vocational theoretical knowledge and internship. In a socio-cultural perspective, the informants have succeeded in the appropriation of cultural tools in the Swedish society, where the context also offers specific measures designed for migrants, some of them mentioned above. The internship, one of these measures, was often a path to employment. Another common feature among the informants was a clear will to adapt to the culture of the workplace and make a good impression on colleagues and employers. Some of the informants had further dreams, e.g. starting their own company or getting further education in the same sector or in another one. Some interviewees had studied to become teachers in their respective areas.
Lasonen, J., & Teräs, M. (2015). Challenges to recognizing foreign competence for employment in Finland: Avoiding immigrant economic stratification. In E.L. Brown, P.C. Gorski & G. Lazaridis (Eds.) Intersection of Poverty, Class and Schooling: Creating Global Economic Opportunity and Class Equity (pp. 129-145). Information Age Publishing Inc. Rogoff, B. (1995). Observing sociocultural activity on three planes: Participatory appropriation, guided participation, and apprenticeship. In J.V. Wertsch, P. del Rio, & A. Alvarez (Eds.), Sociocultural studies of mind (pp. 139-164). Cambridge University Press. Säljö, R. (2015). Lärande: En introduktion till perspektiv och metaforer [Learning: An introduction to perspectives and metafors]. Gleerup. Tovatt, C. (2013). Erkännandets Janusansikte - Det sociala kapitalets betydelse i arbetslivskarriärer [The Janus face of recognition - The meaning of social capital in working life careers]. Santéru. Vesterberg, V. (2015). Learning to be Swedish: Governing migrants in labour-market projects. Studies in Continuing Education, 37(3), 302-316.
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