Migrant Training

Introduction: Key Issues, Challenges, and Essential Facts and Figures

Since the 1950s, IOM has been conducting training for migrants and over the last 60 years has developed a tailored approach to migrant training that takes into consideration the specific needs of migrants and the receiving country. Migrant training includes a wide range of activities designed primarily to ensure the smooth and successful integration of migrants - both permanent and temporary - in the country of destination. This must take into account a range of factors including migrants' cultural, educational and socio-economic backgrounds, and the primary integration challenges they may face based on their individual circumstance.

Migrant training and related activities provide participants with critical information about the country of destination, while helping them to identify and develop the necessary skills needed to succeed in their new environment. In addition to providing factual information, training activities also focus on exploring the attitudes and behavioral changes needed for successful integration.

Over the 2001-2010 period, some 352,000 migrants directly benefitted from IOM's migrant training. Approximately 86 per cent of the participants during this period were resettlement-related. Training activities for refugees and humanitarian entrants focus largely on pre-departure orientation, which may include cultural orientation, language or literacy training, pre-embarkation training, or a combination of these activities. Pre-embarkation or pre-departure briefings are mainly arranged for first-time air travelers and address what to expect at the airport, while in transit, in flight and upon arrival in the country of destination, including customs and immigration formalities. Information about in-flight safety, travelling with infants and children, and appropriate clothing is also provided. Trainers may also be requested to inform airline staff and crew about the specific requirements of a given refugee population.

The remaining 14 per cent of training participants consist of skilled and unskilled labour migrants, asylum seekers, marriage migrants, immigrant visa applicants, and family members of trafficked persons. Many attended either a pre-departure, pre-employment or financial literacy course or a country-of-destination briefing designed to prepare them for their relocation, whether for work, study, or extended living purposes. Temporary labour migrants bound for Canada from Columbia, El Salvador, Guatemala and Mauritius accounted for an estimated 10 per cent during this 10-year period.

IOM migrant training activities have been implemented in over 50 countries, with significant activity in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East/North Africa. As resettlement quotas increase and integration policies become a higher priority for states, especially within the European Union, IOM migrant training activities are expected to increase.

IOM's Vision

IOM is committed to continuously improving the training it provides to migrants of all categories. IOM works closely with governments and institutions when designing training programmes that cater to both temporary and permanent migrants, in developing curricula and carrying out training of trainers. IOM regularly reviews and assesses the impact and relevance of its trainings and modifies its programmes by adopting new approaches and techniques designed to empower and better prepare migrants for the challenges they may face.

IOM's Objectives

IOM assists States by reducing the overall cost of supporting new arrivals by better preparing migrants prior to their arrival and facilitates integration by reducing dependence on post-arrival services. Pre-departure orientation helps migrants better navigate their initial period of resettlement. It also helps them manage and foster realistic expectations; empowers them through facilitating the acquisition of skills, and finally provides a forum in which to ask questions, express their fears and concerns, so as to be better equipped to deal with cultural adaptation and change.

Principal Beneficiaries

Participants in IOM's migrant training programmes include refugees, humanitarian entrants, family reunification cases, skilled migrants, marriage migrants, immigrants and temporary foreign workers. At its most effective, the training helps reduce the costs associated with integrating migrants, by enabling newcomers to rapidly become self-sufficient and productive members of the receiving society. This reduces their vulnerability while fostering their effective participation in their new community.

IOM's Approach

IOM's training methodology recognizes an interactive, learner-centered approach while also taking into account different learning styles. The primary goal of any training is to encourage participation as much as possible, and to strive to empower participants through creating meaningful and experiential learning opportunities. Providing an atmosphere of inclusion in which all participants are encouraged to actively take part, results in fostering a greater sense of belonging. Experiential and participatory training are seen as the most effective approaches, focusing on skills and attitudes rather than simply on information. Providing ample opportunities for learners to express themselves is key to the learning process.

Migrant training goes beyond simply the facts and information dispensed; it also addresses the psychosocial wellbeing of participants. This approach is now seen as an integral part of every IOM migrant training programme. Assisting migrants during periods of transition with compassion and respect significantly contributes to raising their self-esteem and reducing their levels of anxiety. Maintaining integrity throughout the training process begins and ends with the trainer.

In conclusion, IOM believes that migrant training contributes to the orderly and dignified departure of migrants, and facilitates their successful integration, regardless of whether they be temporary or permanent migrants.