BernHEKS MosaiQ advice centre
What is inspiring?
In 2017, Bern was one of the first Swiss municipalities to establish, in cooperation with the Protestant Church, an advice centre that supports qualified migrants on their way to gaining employment which matches their qualifications. The majority of refugees and non-EU-migrants have professional skills, but in Switzerland, these are often worth nothing because they are not formally recognised and many professions are strictly regulated. The widespread consequence for undocumented migrants is unemployment or employment under precarious conditions in jobs they are overqualified for.
How is it functioning?
The advice centre is open to qualified migrants between the ages of 25 and 55 who have their main place of residence in the Canton of Bern. It offers them help with getting diplomas recognised and with filling in gaps in their qualifications, for example, if the training in their home country did not include certain elements that are required in Switzerland. In addition, the office arranges internships, apprenticeships, or jobs on the primary labour market and offers “coaching on the job” for sustainable professional integration. Migrants who do not have a formal qualification but have many years of work experience in their country of origin can also take advantage of the service. These include people with refugee status and those with temporary leave to remain, as well as people who have come to Switzerland through family reunification.
Who initiated the project? How?
In 2017, the Swiss Interchurch Aid organization (HEKS) launched a campaign called “Giving Opportunities”. It targeted educated migrants whose professional diplomas or skills are not recognised in Switzerland. Across Switzerland, there are about 50,000 such immigrants from third countries (outside the EU/EFTA) who, despite holding professional diplomas or academic degrees from their home countries or simply being experienced skilled workers, are either unemployed or only working in jobs for which they are clearly overqualified.