Q.net operates in the city of Bremen and aims to improve migrants' employment opportunities (including self-employment), by focussing on migrants' participation in adult education programmes. In particular, Q.net intends to extend and improve existing training programmes with the objective of increasing migrants' participation in them. In this way Q.net hopes to increase the number of successful migrant business start-ups, and to foster migrants' job security.
Q.net is one of the projects run by the North German Network for the Professional Integration of Immigrants (NOBI). It is managed by the Arbeiterwohlfahrt Bremen (AWO), one of NOBI's partners. AWO is a workers’ welfare organisation that offers a wide variety of services for migrants, children, youth, old people, women, and disabled and sick people. Five of AWO's staff members are working for the Q.net programme on a part-time basis.
NOBI aims to establish an information and counselling network for a better professional qualification and integration of ethnic minorities. NOBI targets adult migrants, governmental and non-governmental institutions as well as organisations that specialise in the field of employment, business start-ups and adult education. NOBI consists of a network of 12 partner organisations and various strategic partners located in four northern German states. NOBl's partners are non-governmental service institutions. NOBl's strategic partners cover a wide range of both governmental and non-governmental institutions.
Together with five other development partners, NOBI forms a nationwide network for information and counselling called "Integration through Qualification" (IQ). This national network was set up by the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Federal Employment Agency. IQ is also supported by the European Community Initiative EQUAL, which is co-financed through the European Social Fund (ESF).
??Figure 1 gives an overview of the relation between the different organisations that are involved in the Q.net project.
Figure 1: Q.Net. Implementing organisations (EP-NOBI, AWO-Bremen) and sources of funds (EQUAL and Ministrv of Labour and Social Affairs).
Funders and funding
The Q.net project, which ??runs from July 2005 until December 2007, is financed by the EU Community Initiative EQUAL and the German Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. The project is also part of the nationwide IQ network. Q.net has a total budget of €700,000 for the entire project period. The project managers intend to extend the programme with a second phase starting in 2008.
Germany has a sizeable migrant population: in 2005, 20% of the population had a migrant background. Policy-makers in Germany were slow to acknowledge this fact, and specific integration and employment policies for this growing group of migrants were not developed in spite of the difficulties clearly being experienced by a significant portion. Unemployment among migrants is twice as high as among native Germans. The outlook is not much better for self-employed migrants: the business failure rate among ethnic minority entrepreneurs is high. According to NOBI these high unemployment and low business survival rates are due to a number of factors. Firstly, migrants have a low level of participation in the education system. The drop-out rate among migrants at secondary schools is high, and migrant participation in Germany's dual system of vocational training is low. Further, existing special employment and qualification schemes fail to reach ethnic minorities and there is a lack of business support services targeting this group.
These general problems exist in the city of Bremen. In 2003, 27% of the city's foreigners were unemployed. As in the rest of Germany, this high unemployment rate is partly due to the lack of participation in schooling and the absence of adequate training services for migrants. Q.net aims to tackle these problems, stimulating migrants' participation in continuous education and improving the quality of professional training.
Q.net aims to improve the labour market situation of migrants in Bremen. It seeks to achieve this goal through raising the quality and increasing the use of training programmes by migrants. The programme aims in particular to diversify existing counselling and qualification systems to better suit the specific needs of ethnic minorities. Better tailored training services and a subsequent higher participation rate should eventually strengthen migrants' employment opportunities.
The programme's specific objectives are to:
- Adapt professional training offerings to the needs of the target population
- Improve access to information on professional training
- Interest entrepreneurs in personal development
- Increase participation in professional training
- Secure existing jobs and create new jobs
- Increase the number of business start-ups and reduce the number of failures
Q.net targets migrants of 27 years or older who reside in Bremen, and primarily those of Turkish and Russian background. Both existing and starting entrepreneurs can participate in Q.net's activities.
How Q.net works
Q.net's activities can be divided into two main categories, first general services in the field of adult vocational training; and secondly business development services for starting and operating entrepreneurs.
Survey of existing services for migrants
Q.net first investigated the relevancy of existing training and consultancy services for migrants. The research showed that existing services do not specifically target ethnic minorities.
Needs assessment among migrant entrepreneurs and employees
Q.net investigated the reasons for the low participation rate in adult vocational training and the conditions under which migrants would be willing to participate. The low participation rate was found to be primarily due to a lack of awareness regarding available continuous education. Time constraints and general dissatisfaction with existing training offerings were also often cited as reasons. Migrants indicated a need for short training sessions that focussed on specific issues related to their business activities, and also for training given by bi-Iingual trainers, preferably with a migrant background. They expressed a wish to develop contacts with business consultancy services and other relevant German institutions. The survey of existing services and the need assessment studies served as input for the development of Q.net's other activities.
Workshops, seminars and visits
Q.net offers a series of short workshops, one-day seminars and guided visits to relevant institutions. The workshops and seminars cover all aspects of running a business, from marketing to insurance. Topics are selected according to the specific needs of the migrant population. The workshops provide useful information both for potential entrepreneurs and for migrants who are thinking of strengthening their position on the labour market through adult education. The sessions are given by staff from Q.net and speakers from migrant organisations or German institutions such as the Chamber of Commerce.
Counselling and mentoring services for business start-ups
Q.net offers counselling services for business start-ups. To satisfy the demand for bilingual and multicultural counselors, Q.net uses representatives of the migrant business community as counsellors.
Meeting point: Qualitreff
Qualitreff is a meeting point set up by migrants for migrants. Its main goal is to inspire and to encourage migrants to start up their own businesses and to participate in continuous education. During monthly meetings led by former Q.net participants, migrants exchange their professional experiences. On average, twenty persons attend such meetings. Qualitreff also plays a relevant role vis a vis the outside world. Migrants' success stories, for instance, provide a much needed perspective to the German media, which often present integration issues in a one-sided and negative light. These meetings are sometimes attended by politicians who wish to familiarise themselves with the migrant community and its needs.
The Qualification pass (Qualifizierungspass) was developed as a tool to raise migrants' awareness of the need for training. It consists of a target agreement in which the potential entrepreneur states his personal objectives and his need for training. The targets are set with the aid of a Q.net staff member, but the migrant is responsible for keeping a record of his own progress.
Publication of a guidebook for business start-ups
Q.net has published a booklet with essential information for starting entrepreneurs. It contains useful advice on writing business plans and various financial matters. It also gives contact details of numerous institutions and training centres for further information.
Accessibility to target groups
For Q.net, accessibility works two ways. The programme has to be accessible to migrants, but it has to have access to the migrant community. Q. net places a lot of effort on breaking down barriers, and cooperating with migrant organisations. Q.net's activities are easily accessible for migrants living in Bremen; participation is free of charge. It makes use of the contacts of AWO Bremen. To overcome language and cultural barriers, Q.net offers its services in German, Turkish and Russian; and it uses counsellors with a migrant background. The programme is also promoted in migrant newspapers, by regional radio stations, and in German language courses. Finally, Q.net is part of a larger network called BEGIN. This is a network of all relevant institutions dealing with entrepreneurs in the city of Bremen. Q.net is the first point of contact for potential entrepreneurs with a migrant background, and Q.net's participants can take part in activities offered by the other organisations in BEGIN.
As mentioned above, the programme operates on two levels - by improving migrants' participation in adult education in order to strengthen their position in the labour market, and by fostering entrepreneurship. The programme shows results on both levels. Q.net's overall result is the improved access to information and the higher participation rate of migrants in training programmes. The design of a training system specifically targeted at ethnic minority entrepreneurs is in itself a considerable result. The publication of various studies and information leaflets is another tangible result. The results of the needs-assessment studies, the trilingual guide for business start-ups, and a booklet with portraits of Qualitreff are available on the websites of AWO Bremen and DP NOBI. From July 2005 to July 2007, 436 migrants participated in one or more training and counselling sessions. Of these 436 participants, 71 already had a business when they entered the programmes. The remaining group of 365 migrants included 148 starting entrepreneurs and 217 migrants who participated in the training in order to increase their chances of keeping hold of their current job or to find a new one. All of the 148 startups were still in operation as of July 2007.
Assessment of Q.net
The Q.net project was evaluated by an external evaluator(1) that also evaluates the other projects that are part of the national [CHECK] la-network. The last interim-evaluation report was published in December 2006.
The Q.net project is relevant for a variety of stakeholders. At the national level, the project generates valuable input for policy makers which otherwise would not be available to them (Q.net is much more aware of migrant needs than politicians can be). The programme's results are of interest also to other training centres and institutions. Finally, the project is of relevance for migrants: the project was set up to identify and serve their specific needs and has been successful in doing so.
- Effectiveness and efficiency
Q.net gains access to its target group through the contacts of AWO Bremen and the help of migrant organizations. This access enables Q.net both to analyse migrants' needs and to design training programmes that satisfies those needs. Q.net's well-designed training packages help migrant business start-ups succeed, and they improve migrants' chances in the labour market. The project is thus effectively meeting its objectives. Q.net's efficiency is also illustrated by its results. On a €700,000 budget Q.net supported 71 already operating entrepreneurs and 148 start-ups, and it improved the educational background of 217 other migrants.
Q.net makes a effort to include its target group in its own design - this in itself is innovative. The input of migrants in its design enabled the programme to be developed according to the needs of its target groups. Further, the project successfully engages with the interests of stakeholders at different levels in society: migrants, training centres, institutions and policy makers. Q.net raises migrants' awareness of training, it improves the quality of training services, it creates networks between migrants and institutions, and it provides valuable inputs to policy makers.
1 The evaluation was carried out by Anakonde: http://www.anakonde.de
The project is also praised for its emphasis on networking. Within the Q.net project, networking occurs on three levels:
Between existing and potential ethnic minority entrepreneurs. Between ethnic minority entrepreneurs and consulting agencies. Between ethnic minorities, media representatives and politicians in order to raise awareness for the needs of migrants.
The project offers a wide range of activities. All of these activities, and its multicultural approach, can be used elsewhere. The questionnaire Q.net used for the needs assessment studies, for instance, is also used in another DP NOBI project in the city of Hamburg.
According to the external evaluator Anakonde, the sustainability of the project's outcomes depends on the cooperation between the involved strategic partners. Q.net in itself generates important insights on integration issues. As long as these insights are incorporated by education institutions and policy in Germany, the results will be sustainable. The Q.net project is also likely to continue. The project managers are currently applying for ESF-funding to finance Q.net's second phase starting in 2008.
Key learning points
- Migrants are often unaware of their own need for training, and the existence of training services. Policy measures should therefore place a lot of effort on promotion of such services. Maintaining good contact with the migrant community can be very useful to promote continuous education.
- A needs assessment is an important first step in designing a policy for migrants. Such an assessment makes it possible to target migrants with tailor-made services and also raises migrants' awareness of the existence of such services.
- The use of foreign languages and migrant mentors and counsellors promotes the access to training and consultancy services.
- The media often provide an overl negative image of migrants and integration issues. Migrants' success stories can be used to improve this image.
Q.Net, AWO Bremen Am Wall 113 28195 Bremen E: firstname.lastname@example.org T: +49 421 33 77 173 W: http://www.awo-bremen.de Contact: Ms. Carolina Montfort-Montero
DP NOBI Lange Reihe 81 20099 Hamburg E: email@example.com T: +494028084625 W: http://www.ep-nobLde Contact: Ms. Gesine Kessler
Notes and references
Interviews with: Ms. G. Kessler, DP-NOBI, Hamburg. Ms. V. Tuchel, Q.net AWO Bremen.
AWO-Bremen: http://www.awo-bremen.de/zugewanderte . php?menu=3#qnet
DP-NOBI: http://www.ep-nobi.de/front_content.php?idcatart=62&lang= 1 &client= 1 Integration through qualification: http://www.intqua.de Documents Anakonde. (2006). Zwischenbericht: Evaluation der Entwicklungspartnerschaften im Netzwerk "Integration durch Qualifizierung" [Mid-term evaluation of the development partnerships in the "Integration through qualification"-network]. Germany: Anakonde. Anakonde. (2007). Bericht zur Befragung der strategischen Partner der EP NOBI [Report on interviews with DP NOBI's strategic partners.] Germany: Anakonde
DP NOB!. (2007). Handbook of the DP NOB I - North German Network for the Professional Integration of Migrants. Hamburg: DP NOB!.
a.net AWO Bremen. (2006). Existenzgrandung: Oer Weg in der Selbststandigkeit. Informationen fOr Existenzgranderinnen und -grander mit Migrationshintergund. [Information for starting entrepreneurs with a migrant background]. Bremen: Q.net.
Q.net AWO Bremen. (2006). Fort- und Weiterbildungsbedarfe bei Selbststandigen mit Migrationshintergrund. [The training needs of self-employed with a migrant background]. Bremen: Q.net. Q.net AWO Bremen. (2007). Qualifizierungsbedarfe bei Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern mit Migrationshintergrund. [The training needs of employees with an immigration background]. Bremen: Q.net.
Q.net AWO Bremen. (2007). Oer "Qualitreff" - eine Portratsammlung. [Portraits of aualitreff]. Bremen: Q.net.