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A Solutions Based Approach to Integration Needed

A group of civil society organisations were brought together by Labour Intercultural on Saturday last (11/06/11), in Wynn’s Hotel Dublin 1, to present their views on where immigration policy needs to go in the future.

The Integration Centre, Pavee Point, New Communities Partnership and the Immigrant Council of Ireland presented their views to a packed room.

Aodhan O’Riordan, TD for the Labour Party began the discussions on a positive note saying that it is a great time in our country to ‘start again’, maintaining that the focus should not be on the economy but peoples self esteem.

O’Riordain argued that changes needed to be made, such as in government where it is monocultural ‘very white and very male’.

Ali Dennehy, Senior Information Officer for The Integration Centre used a solutions based approach to show the many ways in which policy can be improved to offer a better way of life to the inhabitants of Ireland.

The first issue she dealt with was employment, saying “in 2010 approximately every second job loss affected a non-Irish national. Unemployment is much higher among non-Irish people with third level awards than Irish people with the same qualification”.

“There are a number of solutions to this, namely:
• The National Qualification Authority of Ireland could provide training for employment support services to help them interpret foreign qualifications and awards;
• Grants could be made available for immigrant professionals preparing for exams or completing an adaptation period with a view to registering with professional bodies
• A mentoring programme developed by established professionals for immigrant professionals with preference to sectors in need of skilled candidates;
• Every City and County Enterprise Board should have a person with specific responsibility for targeting ethnic entrepreneurs”.

Another issue Ms Dennehy discussed was the education system, the lack of data collected within it and access to third level for asylum seekers and third country nationals.

Possible solutions to this would be:
• an integrated approach taken wherein migrants studying English at a certain FETAC level not being prevented from studying general courses at the same level;
• Low cost loans being made available for students taking up language exam preparation and foundation courses to enter third level colleges and professional bodies.

Killian Forde, CEO of The Integration Centre, said “it is time that we started thinking of clear and practical solutions to the problems inherent in Irish society today. This is a new era in the political life of Ireland, and it needs to be one of action.”

The Integration Centre is committed to the integration and inclusion of people from immigrant backgrounds in Ireland. The Centre specialises in planning, monitoring and advocacy at city, local, national and international levels, and it also provides regionalized information, advice and training services. Evidence-based research influences positive change in legislation, policy and practice. We have more than 250 affiliated organisations as part of our network.

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