The balance of competencies for asylum seekers and refugees


The Need

The process of labor integration of refugees is usually impeded by some limitations: poor knowledge of the training system and the labor market of the host nation; little awareness of their own skills; lack of career planning; unrealistic expectations; resistance to get involved and to redesign their own career in the light of the new employment context.

The interventions that are usually proposed to them tend to speed up the process of retraining and job integration, without having first accompanied the refugees in a process of becoming aware of their resources and their real expendability.

What results is resistance to the support provided, low efficiency and low effectiveness in entering the labor market.

The Model

The balance of competencies model ESPaR is a career counseling path that helps refugees to become aware of their skills and resources, to know realistically how well they can employ them in the labor market and to develop an open attitude towards new careers, sometimes more satisfying than those initially desired.

It mainly uses the group and the autobiographical narrative. The latter is free at the beginning because it is aimed at recovering and giving new meaning to their past experiences. Subsequently, it becomes more and more precise and focused, in order to help them to identify and describe, in a reliable and comprehensible way, their training and working experiences and, from these, their professional skills.

The Manual

To facilitate the dissemination of the model, we wrote a specific manual.

The first part of the document offers an overview of the most current models and methodologies of career counseling, applied to this particular target.

Below, you can find a detailed description of the path, including operating instructions and working materials.

Finally, it ends with a focus on the experimentation conducted in the summer of 2017 thanks to the participation of nine Italian Partners and four Foreign Attendees. 25 operators were trained and led forty groups consisting of ten migrants each: 363 of them completed the process and created their own ESPaR document.



The ESPaR project was conceived by the CROSS, Center for Research on Vocational Guidance and Socio-Professional Development of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. It was financed by the Italian Ministry of the Interior with the National Programme of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) 2014 - 2020. See the website www.espar.it  for more information.