Information Media and Migration - Channels, Content and Culture

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by: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Reisach (ulrike.reisach@hs-neu-ulm.de)

Abstract for the IFORS Conference in Quebec, Quebec, July 17-21, 2017

Part 1: Media Evaluation

Increasing numbers of refugees and migrants from crisis regions and developing countries are seeking asylum and better lives in developed countries. Most of them follow their own sources and networks and have little knowledge about their destinations. Government agencies and NGOs in the target countries are running information platforms and campaigns, trying to inform them about admission criteria and life and work in industrialized countries. Despite increasing efforts to send appropriate messages, many platforms and apps fail in reaching their intentions and target groups.

The quality of information media provided by developed countries has been systematically evaluated by Prof. Dr. Ulrike Reisach and her research team at Neu-Ulm University of Applied Sciences in Germany between mid-2015 and 2016. They developed an assessment scheme for the challenge and searched for online and offline information and teaching material, platforms and applications designed for asylum seekers and migrants. Information resources from typical target countries were compared and evaluated to find best practices and complementary material which could potentially be shared or used by more than one country. Along with the testing and interviews with asylum seekers, social workers, teachers and representatives from the countries of origin, they revealed stunning contrasts and between communication and information/media usage patterns of refugees/migrants and those who try to inform them.

Part 2: Labor market inclusion: Experiences and case studies from Germany

After more than a million new arrivals of refugees and migrants in 2015, Germany has been facing the huge task of labor market integration of a broad variety of people, some with good educational backgrounds, some with low or no formal qualification and some illiterate. In interviews with representatives from companies,education ministries, schools, social workers, consultants, volunteer helpers, and asylum seekers, Prof. Dr. Ulrike Reisach and her team have identified some of the major challenges of both sides as well as approaches which seem to be more successful than others. In her contribution for the conference she will offer well-structured insights into the manifold dimensions and of the task for the civil society as well as for businesses and administrations.

Based on interviews and a structured assessment of the communication and teaching efforts of the institutions involved, Prof. Reisach and her research team discovered a few decisive factors which support or slow down the process of inclusion. Among the positive factors are intercultural competencies and a deep understanding of the process of forwarding knowledge in the respective culture. This comprises understanding media usage as well as the region of origin’s traditions of schooling, teaching and learning as well as those regarding job search, application and HR development at the workplace.

In the research, it turned out that companies and placement agencies which already had a diverse workforce and deep intercultural experience were more successful in developing appropriate programs than others. Nevertheless, some smaller local employers were also successful with personalized inclusion efforts. The contribution will explain how framework conditions and processes in the civil society, including coalitions of employers, chambers of industry and commerce, local schools, work placement agencies, social workers, NGOs and volunteers, positively supported integrative efforts and which assumptions and attempts turned out to be less conductive.