Diversity, Economic Growth and Social Cohesion
The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by Maddy Janssens, Dino Pinelli, Dafne C. Reyman and Sandra Wallmann
Chapter 11: Integration of Non-natives into the Regular Labour Market: The Paradox Project in the City of Antwerp
Dafne C. Reymen This chapter details the work of Paradox in Antwerp. It shows how cultural barriers prevented ‘good’ interrelationships between employers and prospective employees. Recognizing that integrating non-natives in the regular labour market is a goal shared by all parties, Paradox looked for ways to increase the rate of placement in small and medium-sized enterprises. Because the two interest groups were invariably of different ethnic or cultural categories, it might appear that diversity itself was the issue. Detailed analysis revealed the real obstacles to non-native employment: (i) wrong expectations by job-seekers (e.g. they had a qualification not recognized in Belgium) or (ii) wrong ways of spelling out the job description and thus imposing unnecessary requirements on applicants and/or (iii) minor miscommunication on the job after placement that are interpreted as incompetence or worse. These are practical, non-essentialist impediments which Paradox has addressed by acting as a broker between demand and supply sides. The approach involves looking at competences. The key to it is detaching the issue at stake (job placement) from the ethnic origin of the interested person. Second, since it is compatibility of expectations and actions that leads to successful matching – and so allows a ‘better’ diversity to emerge – it is important that job profiles reflect only necessary competences; that candidates have more realistic job expectations; and that extensive counselling of both sides must accompany the placement. Improved communication and mutual understanding can change the face or effects of diversity in the working environment. 11.1 INTRODUCTION Paradox is...
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