Mentoring Practices in Europe and North America: Strategies for Improving Immigrants' Employment Outcomes

by Milica Petrovic

Jan 1, 2015
This study presents a number of promising mentoring and job coaching initiatives from Europe and North America, with a case study of the Belgian context. Mentoring -- an experienced individual coaching or advising a more junior partner or peer -- is increasingly recognised in Europe as a tool for advancing the labour market integration of disadvantaged individuals. However, the scope, methods, and sustainability of mentoring efforts vary widely by national and local context, and depend on a variety of actors and conditions. The mapping inspired the King Baudouin Foundation to launch a call for projects on mentoring to work in Belgium.
  • Strategic collaboration: The multistakeholder approach While in practice, many mentoring and employment-facilitating initiatives are developed and implemented by civil society organisations, getting the government and private sector on board are defining elements for their success and survival.
  • Sustainability, funding, and long-term vision: Having sustainable core funding is crucial for operating effectively and in the long run. Mentoring practices are rarely inherent to structural mainstream policies. They are almost always remedial, add-on programmes, targeting those who fall through the net of generic service provisions. This places a significant burden on the very existence and survival of mentoring programmes.
  • Changing the mindset: The most challenging and least malleable or predictable element for effective labour market insertion programmes is to have all participating stakeholders pull in the same direction.
  • Having clear benchmarks and ensuring comprehensive evaluation: Finally, having clear objectives is quintessential for an effective mentoring programme. This implies envisaging the ultimate goals of the programme itself (for example, expanding the mentee's socioprofessional network, building self-confidence, developing cognitive and social skills, or obtaining sustainable employment), as well as a clear definition of the target groups involved (such as low-skilled or immigrant youth, immigrant women, highly skilled immigrants, or refugees) and the type of mentors that fit them best (such as retired or active senior professionals, or peer professionals).
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