On the 16th march 2017 at 5 o´clock pm the office of The Hague Peace Projects in was filled up with the participants of the panel discussion “An Integration introduction into the Dutch labour market”. As the moderator and coordinator of the Syrian working group of The Hague Peace Projects, Mohammed Taha opened the panel discussion with the goal to discuss the labour market in general and especially the obstacles a refugee might have entering the market. Soon he gave the word to the speakers for their self-introduction.
Michel Slangen was the first speaker, working for the Dutch refugee council (Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland), who introduced the program VIP (Vluchtelingen investeren in pariciperen). It organises training groups for refugees to prepare them for the labour market by writing a CV, train a job interview and connect them with potential employers at the end. In his point of view it is important to send them into the market as confident employees, who know what their strengths are and what they can do.
Mieke van Tilbrug is part of “Corporative Entrepreneurship” based in Eindhoven. She explained that her organisation decided to work in the Netherlands as well because they observed the exclusion of people from the labour market because they are refugees or lived on social benefits for a long time. Actually, they support 20 entrepreneurs. One of them is Ziad Al-Khaled, a Syrian successful entrepreneur who arrive in the Netherlands 3 years ago. He described his arrival and how he succeeded. Nowadays he unites many nationalities under the roof of his company like Turks, Syrians or Iraqi.
The 4th participant of the panel was Mister Saba, the director of the company “Migrant Inc.”. This company is specialised on refugees as future entrepreneurs. The support depends on several criteria like language skills, background, experiences and the ideas of a person. He wants refugees to make their dreams come true by providing a mentor and trainings until an entrepreneur is ready for the market. The company starts working soon with around 15 people and Mister Saba emphasises “that it is important to really understand the needs that the different refugees have.”
The moderator Mohammed asked the first question to the panel and opens the discussion: “Is the municipality of The Hague willing to help and do something for integration?”
Another topic of the discussion were refugees who studied in other countries and need to repeat their education mostly, which is a clear demotivation. In response, the panel clarifies that the integration in the labour market is always a difficult and long process that often starts with voluntary jobs or unpaid internships but everyone points out “Do not lose your mission!” Probably this can be held as the most important message of the event.
During the whole discussion, the languages of English, Dutch and Arabic where used in a wild mixture and several people translated the statements for everyone. The declining sun soused the whole room into golden light and when it gets dark everyone agreed, that the Syrian working group organised a successful, informative event and that everyone can benefit from the received information and new contacts.