Building a future together

Building a future together

How the Erasmus+ project MiTrust aims to strengthen the skills of migrants and make them useful for the construction industry

Text by Manfred Kasper | March 2023

The number of migrants in the construction industry is high. According to Eurostat, the industry is one of the ten most important employment sectors for this target group in the European Union. What qualifications are needed to facilitate the professional and private integration of refugees in their new home country and at the same time contribute to solving the skilled labour problem?

This is exactly where the Erasmus+ project MiTrust comes in. The partnership, realised by the Berufsförderungswerk der Bauindustrie NRW gGmbH (BFW NRW) in cooperation with partners from Greece, Cyprus, Germany and Turkey, is developing an innovative digital tool to support migrants in the construction industry in the participating countries - from acquiring the necessary language skills to teaching soft skills and proper behaviour on the construction site, for example in terms of occupational safety. It also supports tutors as well as trainers, vocational training providers and construction companies.

"Meeting the needs of refugees is a major challenge for the construction industry and for teaching and training staff in vocational education and training," explains Ulrich Goos, who has been managing BFW in Kerpen for more than 20 years. The house is one of three training centres (ABZ) of the North Rhine-Westphalian construction industry; up to 350 graduates are trained here in adult education and initial training measures. This makes the BFW the largest centre of its kind in North Rhine-Westphalia and one of the largest facilities in Germany. The inter-company training includes eleven industrial apprenticeships, as well as further and advanced training, dual courses of study and projects such as MiTrust.


Ulrich Goos and Dr Askim Bozkurt

Ulrich Goos and Dr Askim Bozkurt

Impulses for the entire industry

fw3The Erasmus+ project, which will run until autumn 2023, started in November 2021 and focuses on open offers and distance learning tools to improve the job prospects of people who come to an EU country and want to enter the construction industry labour market there. In terms of content, the aim is equally to work out the differences in the training systems of the participating countries in order to develop concrete measures that will help not only the migrants but the entire domestic sector.

Dr Askim Bozkurt, the project coordinator for Erasmus+ projects at BFW, considers the international networking practised in MiTrust to be a very good way to give the construction industry impetus to overcome the current challenges. She points out that BFW can look back on a long history in terms of internationality; corresponding projects have been carried out since 2004. Bozkurt verbatim:

"We are well networked nationally and internationally and have received several awards, especially for our inclusion projects. For me, the construction industry is one of the areas in which inclusion can best be lived. If we succeed in qualifying skilled workers from different cultural backgrounds linguistically, interculturally and professionally, this can contribute enormously to the future of the industry." Bozkurt has been involved in this topic for a long time; BFW has maintained an intensive exchange with its Greek and Turkish partners for more than 15 years.



From analysis to a comprehensive learning platform

Currently, the core of the project is being developed, whereby the development of the content for the learning programme is based on a previously prepared analysis that defines specific requirements for the respective countries. The process is agile and involves trainees and apprentices with a migration background at ABZ Kerpen. One of them is Abdoulaye Bak, who comes from Guinea and has been living in Germany for three and a half years. He is a vocational preparation class student who emphasises: "When we come to Germany, we have to know the rules in the country and how things work. The MiTrust platform is a great help in learning the language and understanding many procedures. This also applies beyond the situation on the construction site."

In order to achieve the intended goal, Bozkurt is also building on inclusion in the realisation of MiTrust. She emphasises: "We try to involve all groups of people and break down barriers, for example by working with pictures and simple language and by making access to the portal low-threshold. The competencies of the partners involved complement each other perfectly in this respect; our strength is the partner structure." The Greek partner has the necessary methodological competence, other institutions have many years of experience in working with migrants or knowledge in quality assurance and public relations.

The impact of the Erasmus+ project can be increased

The platform is to be launched at the end of the year, but Ulrich Goos is already enthusiastic about the progress of the project, even though the meetings of the partners have so far had to take place mostly online due to corona. "A great offer is being created that our target group can look forward to and that offers very different possibilities of use. This ranges from training in relevant social and language skills in the company and in vocational school to instruction in topics such as occupational safety and materials technology by companies and tutors." Another plus point is that the platform can be continuously developed, the whole thing is a very dynamic process. Kyriakos Periedis from the Cypriot partner Opinion also emphasises the latter. He says: "In the long term, I think it would be desirable to develop other language versions in addition to German, English, Greek and Turkish and to increase the efficiency of the project even further. It would certainly be optimal if we could cover the topic Europe-wide."

Read the original article in German here.

co-funded-by-erasmus-plusFunded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.