Systemic Life Coaching with People with Migration and Refugee Background
The integration of refugees is a long term process, as they are facing quite a number of challenges; such as language barrier, different culture and value system, and many others. Both migrants and refugees desire to adapt to their new environment, but they are sometimes overwhelmed. Hence, there is a need to understand these challenges in an attempt to providing adequate and needed support in coping with their present, and consequences of their past trauma. One of the processes of supporting refugees or people with migration background is through life coaching. Although life coaching is an emerging phenomenon, especially when examining the concept using the prism of refugees and people with migration background. This paper will examine the concept of life coaching, as well as the relationship between life status and aspiration of people with refugee and migration background. It will also investigate the challenges faced by migrants and refugees residing in Germany in the course of their integration to their new host country. The paper concludes by identifying various coping strategies for the migrants and refugees.
Keywords: Life Coaching; Migrants; Refugee; Refugee integration; financial coaching
Description of the concept of systemic life coaching
The integration of refugees is a long term process, as they are facing quite a number of challenges; such as language barrier, different culture and value system, and many others. Hence, there is a need to understand these challenges in an attempt to providing adequate and needed support in coping with their present, and consequences of their past trauma. It is noteworthy to state that both migrants and refugees desire to adapt to their new environment, but they are sometimes overwhelmed with several aforementioned challenges (Association Pro Refugiu, 2014). One of the processes of supporting a refugee or people with migration background is through coaching, such that self-esteem, self-reliance, and necessary knowledge required to take the right step in actualising their goals, and for faster and better integration is learnt (Association Pro Refugiu, 2014).
Coaching is described as a systematic process of supporting and facilitating the development, skills, resources, creativity, as well as the performance of an individual, in an attempt to achieve his/her objectives; be it specific or lifestyle goals (Association Pro Refugiu, 2014). There might be semblances among coaching, training, counselling, and mentoring; Association Pro Refugiu (2014), made some clarifications by submitting that training revolves around instructing people on what they don’t know, and how to get it right; while mentoring is the act of showing people how to do things by the expert(s). Counselling on the other hand is the act of enabling people to come to terms with what they are actually facing.
Although there are many forms of coaching; however, Association Pro Refugiu (2014) argued that for refugees, there are three essential types of coaching: (i) intercultural coaching, (ii) trauma recovery coaching, and (iii) life coaching. It is against this background that life coaching for migrant and refugees would be examined.
According to Nelson-Jones (2006), life coaching is still and emerging phenomenon, and there is still no universal acceptable definition for its concept. However, several scholars have provided their own perceptions on the concept of life coaching. For instance, the Australian Psychological Society (2020) described life coaching as the systematic application of behavioural science to improve work performance, life experiences, and wellbeing of people, individuals, and organisations with neither abnormal level of stress, nor mental health challenges. In addition, Palmer (2008) posited that life coaching enhances the wellbeing and performance of individuals’ life and work, especially among non-clinical and normal population.
Moreover, Spence and Grant (2017) submitted that life coaching is an intervention that prioritises personal goals and aspiration of individuals. In addition, life coaching revolves around personal and professional lives of the clients, thereby encouraging progress, better focus, as well as awareness of alternative choices. It is important to state that life coaching is different from advice therapy, consulting, mentoring, or counselling; as it concentrates on business success, personal projects, and other general conditions (Association Pro Refugiu, 2014). Furthermore, life coaching delves into personal life, profession, or relationship, in an attempt to discover any challenges and providing alternatives into choosing the right course of action/decision; such that the goals of the client is achieved. From the aforementioned descriptions of life coaching, one can deduce that it is more of enhancing the wellbeing, and less of improving or restoring the functionality of an individual (Grant and Cavanagh, 2010).
The application of life coaching has transcended beyond the traditional context, such as work leadership development, as well as private and public sectors into facilitating changes within the health and wellness, physical and mental performance. Hence, it has embraced diverse professionals from different background, such as psychology, counselling, sociology, neuroscience, and many others (Australian Psychological Society, 2020). Moreover, in recent times, as a result of the covid-19 pandemic that has necessitated the change in business gathering or working, life coaching has become a force to be reckoned with in terms of remote working.
Nelson-Jones (2006) was explicit in dissecting the construct, ‘life’ in life coaching by examining whose ‘life’ and when life coaching should occur. The author claimed that life in question could be that of ordinary person of any age, and coaching can be conducted all through the life of such an individual, and it could last for just a single session to a lifetime. Coaching on the other hand is a collaborative association between a coach and coachee, with the ultimate goal of assisting the coachee to reach an appreciable depth of personal development, as assessed by the client; while the coach is just the facilitator (Spence and Grant, 2007). It is important to state that coaching is a dialogue-based activities, but action oriented. Moreover, life coaching is neither therapeutic in nature, nor does it concerns itself with clinical issues; hence, there is a need for professional life coaches to screen their clients for mental health challenges, as they may be seeking for means to alleviate their depression or anxiety through life coaching (Nelson-Jones, 2006; Spence & Grant, 2007).
Furthermore, life coaching could occur at any stage, even when preparing for death. Mulligan (1999) argued that life coaching can be divided into seven areas; which include: (i) health, (ii) spiritual/religious life, (iii) personal relationship, (iv) work and career, (v) friends or social life, (vi) finances, and (vi) family or extended family. It is noteworthy to state that there might be overlapping arears between the identified areas, and coaching might take place in either of them. For example, financial coaching is a subset of personal coaching (Grable and Archuleta, 2014). In their findings to examine and compare the effectiveness of professional coaching and peer coaching, Spence and Grant (2007) submitted that for superior goal commitment and progression, professional coaching should be considered, as it is essential in reaching a target goal, unlike the peer coaching that could lag is surmounting challenges towards achieving goals.
Nelson-Jones (2006) posited that for effective coaching experience, there should be a coach, client(s), as well as the processes as to what a coach/client(s) does whenever they are /not in contact with the coach, in an attempt to have achieve an appreciable output. One of the processes of life coaching is setting of goals; although setting achievable goal is ideal, through the use of ‘SMART’ goals where the client is fully involved is encouraged (Grant et al., 2010). Moreover, there should be ample time for the client to fathom his/her goal instead of the coach rushing towards encouraging the client in achieving the set goals. Baron and Morin (2009) examined the role of working alliance in coaching processes when they analysed coach-coachee pairs, and it was discovered that there is a positive relationship between the number of coaching session and working alliance, as it improves the self-efficacy of the managers/clients.
However, Berry et al. (2011) argued that there is no significant relationship between resolving a client’s challenges and working alliance if coaching processes is conducted in a face-to-face manner, but there was improvement when the coaching session was conducted remotely. Furthermore, according to Hann et al. (2016), there is a positive relationship between coaching effectiveness and working alliance of the clients. Moreover, Molyn et al. (2021) argued that there is a positive relationship between coaching effectiveness and wellbeing of the clients, but at the later stage of the coaching, effective coaching is associated with resilience and goal attainment. It is therefore important to state that there is no relationship between working alliance and perceived stress over time.
There are several approaches to performing or discharging life coaching. One of which is face-to-face meeting between the client and the coach. With this procedure, the coach identifies bodily communication of the client, which is usually good when working with teenage clients (Nelson-Jones, 2006). Other options of sessions with the client include phone session, which is ideal for clients with busy schedules. There are several threats to the practice of life coaching, and one of them is the lack of professionalism. Grant et al. (2010) argued that anyone with no relevant training could offer life coaching services, and this has led to poor reputation, not only for the life coach, but it affects other wider coaching industry.
Overview of systemic life coaching of people with refugee and migration background
For the refugees, the desire to achieve economic independence could be difficult, as some lack the qualification to compete in the labour market, while those who are qualified are facing a rather discriminatory labour market in their new home (Marchand & Dijkhuizen, 2018). In a bid to achieve the SDG 8 that promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth for all through decent work and employment, the inputs of entrepreneurship cannot be alienated (Marchand & Dijkhuizen, 2018). Becoming an entrepreneur, especially for refugees improves their personal lives and development, as well as it serves as a means of social integration and meaningful contribution to their host nations or society. There are several challenges that refugees face in a new country, part of which are social integration into the new society, administrative, social-cultural differences, and many others. Even if refugees want to open their businesses, they could be limited by their lack of knowledge regarding the business and financial regulations in the new environment; which could limit their personal development, as well as sustainability growth potential of their businesses (Marchand & Dijkhuizen, 2018).
While citing the case of the Netherlands, the potential refugees often experience challenges in developing their business plan and starting their business, through personal development coaching, Marchand and Dijkhuizen (2018) argued that although the refugee participants to a large extent had entrepreneurial mind sets, but all experienced ambiguity in terms of the potential risks in starting a business, as it became narrowed down to financing and lack of network at the end of the program. In addition, their mind set was eventually changed from establishing a business to defining oneself. There is also the prevalence of commercially-owned proprietary model of coaching, but with little openness or research for peer-review evaluation.
In other to speed up the integration of refugees into Swedish society and labour market, the Swedish government in 2010 established the Public Employment Service (PES), thereby transferring the responsibilities of the refugees from the municipalities to the central government (IZA, 2016). To benefit from this new scheme, refugees and their next of kin will have to register with the local PES, in other to be exposed to establishment plans, benefits, and coaches. In an experimental study conducted by IZA (2016), where the treatment group involved those who were presently enrolled in the PES for 3 years (6,410), and the control group that registered in the PES, pre-2010, during the municipal control (6,472). The findings revealed that there was no significant difference between the treatment group and the control group in the first year, but between year 2 and 3, the probability for employment was higher among the treatment group (1.8% and 2.7% respectively). However, this employability did not affect women, as it was even lower by 18%. Furthermore, regarding PES on the earnings of the participant, it was discovered that there was no significant difference in both groups in year 1, but there was improvement in earning in years 2 (22%) and 3 of the treatment group. However, this is was not subjected to getting better paid jobs. Again, the earnings of women are far lesser than men in all the years, between 20-51% (IZA, 2016).
In an attempt to bridge occupational marginalisation being experienced by refugees in Canada, Nardon et al. (2020) investigated the outcome of the career coaching programme initiated by Newcomer Supporting Organisations (NSOs) in Canada for refugees, which revolved around development of professional identities, career options, work opportunities, as well as job placement. The authors submitted that some the refugees who participated in this programme resisted the expectation management of NSO in getting their dream jobs in Canada, while some recrafted their new identity by seeing the present job situation as a mere transitionary phase, but with the ultimate goal of returning to their old profession. NSOs also itemised some of the challenges they faced, such as paucity of funds, limited appreciable jobs for refugees, as well as inadequate engagements from employers; i.e. large organisations, as they have the small firms as their only option. This eventually limits the anticipated outcomes of the programme, as large organisations could afford to engage in large hiring, as well as diversity policies and initiatives would be in place.
Naeini et al. (2017) in their study examined the effect of life skill coaching on children within the age range of 7 and 13 residing in a refugee camp in Iran. After three months of coaching exercise, it was reported that the coachees exhibited a drastic reduction in the frequency of physical and verbal abuse among other refugee children. In addition, there were noticeable reduction in psychological difficulties, as coachees exhibited more respective behaviours towards their peers and adults. Moreover, during the course of the coaching exercise, the coachees also displayed improved personal hygiene and neat appearances. However, Naeini et al. (2017) cautioned that for this tempo of attitudinal changes to be sustained among the coachees, they suggested that a long term continuous education should be provided for the students, such that it would afford them to practise the new skills daily.
Relationship between life status and aspiration of people with refugee and migration background
Gűere (2019) explained that incidences that forced refugees to flee their home country and on transit towards the host country is regarded as arrival conditions, and it is not limited to loss of connections with family members, exposure to violence during detention and prison-like experience, as well as psychological and emotional pressure from government and many others. After refugees have adapted and become integrated into the new society, they struggle to find a space by fulfilling the basic human needs—belonging, in an attempt to meaningfully contribute to their host country. In the journey of emigrating out of a country, not all migrants possess the same life goals, and even if they have similar life goals, diverse strategies would be used to achieve the goals, which would be subject to availability and accessibility to resources (Tyldum, 2021).
In a quantitative study conducted by Alhaddad et al. (2021) to investigate the challenges faced by youth in Germany, the participants who were from Syria and Iraq affirmed that their financial, physical, and psychological wellbeing were threatened. Furthermore, at the social level, the participants had issues with the school, friends (loneliness), family members, as well as securing accommodation. Moreover, at the broader societal level, the participants experienced discrimination, difficulties in adjusting to new life, as well as challenges with German bureaucratic processes and policies. In addition, majority of the participants registered negative emotions concerning their present state of living in Germany. Tyldum (2021) pointed out that some refugees often experience loneliness, social exclusion, and cultural alienation, and some of those who sought for secondary migration from either Lebanon or Jordan to Europe or America want to do that because of the education of their children, as their present host country do not have affordable education for their children. Likewise, some migrants are scared of not being able to practice their religion, especially for the female, as they would be forced to remove their hijab, as well as the over-involvement of the government in child upbringing—child protection services. Conversely, in a study conducted by Weishaar (2010), it was discovered that being in constant communication with fellow migrants from one’s own country does not guarantee not being lonely; rather, it would heightens competition, as such relationship was not built on genuine commitment.
Alhaddad et al. (2021) affirmed that all the participants aspire to compete their secondary education and proceed to the university, but they are experiencing difficulties in learning German language, which dwindle their chances of following their dreams of obtaining the German high school diploma (Abitur) and then proceed to the university, but the reality is that proceeding to professional apprenticeship (Ausbildung) is more feasible. In Germany, there is high stratification of the secondary school system, which strongly affect the chances of the graduates in terms of job quality, employment opportunities, and financial gratification. For example, an individual that graduates with low-level secondary school diploma (Hauptschulabschluss) will find it rather difficult to secure apprenticeship position, as it is the company that could choose among applicants, thereby acting as a gatekeeper to the vocational schools (Söhn, 2020).
The concept of skills for migrant could be relative, as it is beyond mere qualification, especially when such an individual will have to validate and most of the time reshape both personal and professional competence, in other to make a statement in a new environment (Hercog and Cangià, 2021). Majority of the German firms have troubles with accepting applications of secondary school adolescent graduates who are from migrant families, as they have issues with German language proficiency (Söhn, 2020). Some of the firms even argued that it becomes problematic for them to interact with clients, as well as migrants’ display of poor social cohesion among other apprentices. According to Xe et al. (2008), it is not enough to be proficient in the native language of the host nation for the refugees or migrants, and to avoid any form of unanticipated culture-shock, they migrant workers ought to understand slangs and popular brands that occurs in social commentary.
Furthermore, the firms affirmed that some of the immigrant apprentice have poor social desirability, especially when girls put on their headscarf (Söhn, 2020). Conversely, the acculturative stress experienced as a result of language barrier is relative; according to Tschirhart et al. (2019) such stress is absent, as this is noticeable among migrants from South Korea who work in Japan, as they technically speak similar language. Schiele (2019) investigated the life satisfaction of German immigrants on their decision to either remain or return to their host country; it was discovered that immigrants with transnational ties, especially those who have resided in Germany for more than 17 years experienced better life satisfaction, as result of their lower cost of returning to their home countries.
In addition their propensity towards disposition to appreciable level of information might have warranted their choice of decision. However, factors such as unavailability to good jobs, social ties with host countries, and low GDP of the home country encourages immigrants to remain in their host countries. One of the attributes of being bonded with the home country is the ability of the migrants to make consistent financial remittances to their home countries. According to OECD (2019), most of the migrants make remittances to their home countries, at least once in every two months, and the frequency of the remittances is subject to intensity of the needs of the receiving family, regularity in the income of the sending migrants, the purpose of the remittance, and the channel used in sending the remittance. For instance, it is expected from Asian migrants to send monthly remittances to their parents owing to filial piety, and they are also expected to return to their home country to take care of them, which could be a bit stressful for the migrants (Lee et al., 2016). It is however important to state that migrants try as much as possible to hide their various stress and challenges from their parents so as to prevent their parents and family members from worrying about them.
It is not only in Germany that it is common for highly skilled migrant, either voluntary or forcefully would be unemployed or be working in jobs below their education level unlike their counterparts of Swiss native origin (Hercog and Cangià, 2021). As Harrysson et al. (2016) stated, the former acquired knowledge becomes obsolete. In a study conducted in Northern Italy by Bolzani et al (2021), to investigate the intersectional barriers and resources that limits migrant women with STEMM background; it was discovered that there are some existence of some professional bodies that limits some professionals from practicing. Moreover, there could be financial constraints for migrants who would want to acquire another degree for requalification, and some organisational-level barriers that prefers men to women. For instance, men could: be flexible in terms of travelling; possess better stability in terms of having no need for maternity leave; or just mere prejudice as a result of negative experience while working with a migrant worker (Bolzani et al., 2021).
Female refugees are limited from integrating into the German labour market, which might be as a result of their present place of residence, especially in smaller cities or towns where facilities, such as child care and language courses are unavailable. This could limit their chances of utilising their skills and to access support structures. In addition, the traditional stratification of labour among the migrant families have placed the female refuges out of the labour market, thereby positioning the male as the breadwinner, and forcing the latter to stay at home, notwithstanding their level of education (Hillmann and Koca, 2021; Tyldum, 2021). Hegemonic masculinity is prevalent is prevalent among the migrant families, as some of the men would prefer their wives to stay at home, rather than learning German language for proficiency, as a result of jealousy; thereby putting their wives in dependency positions.
There might be several reasons for emigrating from one’s home country, Fedrigo et al. (2012), in their research findings consisting of ten migrants from different countries who now resides in Spain; they all submitted that they emigrated from their home country due to economic reasons, so as to improve their living conditions. Furthermore, the respondents argued that once a migrant is in another country, he/she would experience a redefinition of identity. This could be as a result of disparity between what a migrant is currently doing—job-wise, and what was obtainable in one’s home country—but with a plan to maximise the present resources and opportunities, after realising that most of the previous life aspirations and dreams cannot be realised for now (Gűere, 2019). The authors argued that one of the biggest challenges being faced by migrants in their host country is the thought of emigrating from their home country and starting all over again. Some of the respondents also experienced challenges in constructing a transnational identity, but they were repelled both by their home country and their host country. This is because there is a constant comparison between the socio-cultural settings between the home and host country in other to construct new identity, which might eventually change the mind set of the migrant.
Furthermore, there are some relevant social and personal attributes that could make a migrant to be exceptional in searching for jobs, such as their nationality and ethnic background, personal resources, previous work, social attributes, and many others (Hercog and Cangià, 2021). For instance, Hillmann and Koca (2021) argued that female migrants from former Soviet Union often encounter less challenges in entering the German labour market when compared with those from Middle East and Africans, as a result of differences in educational settings. In addition, in Sweden, it was reported that refugees from Iraq has lower chances of being employed, against all other nationalities, due to their unknown education (IZA, 2016). Moreover, Lee et al. (2016) argued that migrants often complain that there was little or no cultural orientation that was given to them before their departure to the host country, as this would have given the chance to have a knowledge of the cultural differences.
Terragni et al. (2018) reported that between 2012 and 2018 among asylum seekers living in five asylum reception centres in Norway, it was discovered that the respondents at the transit centre, the respondents (asylum seekers) complained that food served were not familiar to them, thereby resulting in massive food wastage. In addition at the reception centres where respondents have access to shared kitchen, it was however discovered that the kitchen was not well equipped such that food preparation would be encouraged. For instance, respondents were forced to eat in their various rooms, as there were no tables and chairs, which in turn increase their loneliness. It was also reported that shopping could be difficult for the respondents, as most of them would prefer to shop together, and getting their needs was also cumbersome, since they have limited information about the content of the food, in an attempt to avoiding haram food products, on religious grounds.
Essence of systemic life coaching for the integration of people with refugee and migration background
For adaptation and participation of refugees in their host countries, there are well-defined integration stages and policies that must be in place to avoid or reduce any negative outcomes within the host country. The integration of refuges could be achieved in diverse ways, such as family reunion, learning of the official language of the host country, access to education, health care and employment, participation in social and cultural life of the new host country, and many others (Gűere, 2019). There are several actors involved in the integration process of a refugee, and they are: the refugee, society and institutions; all working towards achieving a successful outcomes.
During the early stages of integration for refugees, establishment of social connections is an essential but rather difficult to initiate with the host community, as German language being the major determinant. In addition, for refugees, integration is a relative term, for instance, while being in a camp/shelter, integration means obeying the rules of the camp, as well as understanding the social environment of the local community (Gűere, 2019). However, if the term is used by a local official, it could mean otherwise. Because of the ambiguity of integration, from the perception of the refugees, it further reinforces the fact that they are not part of the host community, and they need to work harder in adapting to how things are done here, even though their extent of being integrated is unknown (Gűere, 2019).
The ultimate goal of financial coaching is to help clients to achieve long-term financial goals through directed behavioural change (Grable and Archuleta, 2014). In a bid to achieve the goals of financial coaching, the coach must understand that each client has unique skills and abilities; hence, the coach must discover that and use his/her professional experience to achieve such behavioural change. Grable and Archuleta (2014) argued that coaching is not peculiar to low-income household, as the services might be needed across all socio-economic status. Families with good financial health do have some funds available to meet their needs and wants, as well as the ability to possess savings for the unexpected expenses and some stock of wealth to be used in later part of their lives.
Life could be difficult for migrants and refugees who might have issue with securing jobs in their host country. Even if they eventually secure the job, financial coaching is the way to go, as they might find it rather difficult in coming to terms with the new policies and practices relating to finances of the host country. This is because quite a number of these migrants and refugees came from simple agro-based economic countries where discussion and business transactions were local and personal (Solheim, n.d). Financial coaching is needed for the refugees in understanding the complexity of the banking industry of their host country, with the ultimate goal of identifying various products of the banks, and to develop skills to manage accounts, so as to eliminate or reduce penalties (Solheim, n.d; OECD, 2019). For instance, Melby et al. (2008) argued that migrants often experience inadequacies and requires technical support in filling tax forms, payment of public bills, as well as opening a bank account, which might be a different procedure judging from where the migrants were coming from.
In the Netherlands, peer-to-peer coaching is one of the means of making refugee adolescents to be more resourceful and successful in their school by improving learning, reducing isolation, and development of 21st century skills, such as self-reflection and integration into the Dutch culture (Kneer et al., 2019). In this wise, the native Dutch adolescents are the coaches, while the refugee adolescents are the coachee. Before becoming a peer-to-peer coach, the coaches engaged in a 3-day training, which revolves around social and communication skills, soft skill and educational development. It is noteworthy to state that peer coaches would be supervised by adult supervisor (teacher), and they meet once a month or when the situation warrants it. Eventually, the 16 coaches were matched with the 16 coachees based on their gender, age, and neighbourhood. It was discovered that there was an improvement in the motivation of the peers, as well as the sudden disappearance of loneliness on the path of the peer.
Challenges associated with systemic life coaching of people with refugee and migration background who resides in Germany
Between 2015 and 2016, there are about 1.2 million persons who arrived Germany seeking for asylum (OECD, 2017). It has been more difficult and time-consuming in some European countries, and the lucky few who had the chance of being granted refugee status now have lesser rights and benefits (Tyldum, 2021). It is noteworthy to mention that not all asylum seekers are granted international protection and could remain in Germany. Műller (2021) identified three peculiarities with refugees that arrived in Germany after 2013, which are : (i) the long term-focused refugees who want to start a new life and develop it to its fullest; (ii) the short term-focused refugees, who are undecided with no strategic ideas of maximising the opportunities available, and could leave Germany to other countries; and (iii) the short term-focused refugees who are determined to return to their home country the socio-political and economy has been achieved by their home country. Tyldum (2021) argued that those who wants to leave their primary host country to another country will do that on economic grounds, as they might have been reading about luxurious lifestyle some of their fellow countrymen have been experiencing through the social media.
Flűchtling and Geflűchtete (r) are German words that means refugee. However, the latter is controversial, as it is stereotypical in nature, limiting refugees to their status, while the former is relatively generally acceptable as it portrays refugees as a mere temporal status or stage in the life of an individual (Műller, 2021). Prior to 1978, the political consensus was that non-German residents would have to either return to their various countries of origin or be ready to be socially and culturally assimilated. It is important to state that it was during the social-democratic government after 1978 that integration became an official policy statement (Műller, 2021). The first official integration law came into force in August 2016; integration in this wise offers the refugees the opportunity to have cultural autonomy (OECD, 2017). For instance, it is compulsory for refugees to engage in language and civic orientation under the Integration Act. Moreover, refugees are to remain in the Land that hosted them during the phase of their asylum seeking for a duration of three years minimum, and if this is not respected, they risk being excluded from the welfare support (Hillmann and Koca, 2021). Although this is subject to change under some circumstances, such as employment, tertiary/vocational training elsewhere, or family reunification (OECD, 2017).
Heinemann (2018) had a contrary view about the integration course (integrationskurse) or orientation course (orientationskurse) subsidized by the German government, which is premised on Leitkultur (defining culture), as a subtle hegemonic means of stabilising the nationalistic idea of the State in dictating what the ‘refugees or newcomers’ would do, trust, and believe, as it inhibits tints of acculturalisation and assimilation. This is because once a refugee/migrant registers, he/she becomes monitored by the State official, and it is an illusion to claim that once the completion of the language course, the participants would be included into the society and labour marker. Rather, migrants or refugee who do not master the course is liable to experience discrimination in the labour market, thereby exposing them to racism (Heinemann, 2018). Even at workplace, for migrants who are highly skilled migrants have to cope with additional stressor, as most of the organisations are not sensitive to cultural diversity, thereby limiting them from advocating their own course (Lee at al., 2016).
Hillmann and Koca (2021) further corroborated this claim in their study where they claimed that even the refugee women who participated in the government-led language course do not have positive outcomes, as some of them still live in shelters, away from the German-speaking society. Self-concept of a refugee is influenced through social interaction, especially with the host community, which will eventually encourage the re-shaping of new identity within the new environment (Gűere, 2019). It is important to state that the host community might have their own trust and integration challenges, but if refugees do not develop interactions with the host communities, it could retard or hinder their process of integration.
As Alhaddad (2021) would describe it, there are obvious discrimination where migrants or refugees were cautioned not to publicly speak their mother tongue. If a migrant or refugee do not want to be monitored by the government, there are two available options, either to register with a volunteer or private courses. However, the private courses are way too expensive for the ‘newcomers’, and volunteers trainers neither possess the linguistic expertise, nor the pedagogical skills (Alhaddad, 2021). It is noteworthy to state that the undocumented migrants and refugees often resort to patronising the volunteer courses, but that would not give them the chance to acquire the desired language skill (Heinemann, 2018). Conversely, Hillmann and Koca (2021) argued that the NGO in their study claimed that the language proficiency offered has created new spaces for empowerment and networking for the refugees, thereby facilitating the interaction between the refugees and the local community.
In a bid to acquire a job (professional and non-professional) in Germany, being a refugee, there are some challenges that must be surmounted. The chief of them is the good German language knowledge, which is compulsory for every professional career (Műller, 2021; Hillmann and Koca (2021). In addition, for a refugee to access German language courses, it could take a while, as entitlements are checked and processed. Aside this, such a refugee will have to pay to navigate the German bureaucracy if such a refugee would want to speed up the processing (Műller, 2021). Moreover, it is noteworthy to state that the professional certificate of the refugee—even if such is the most qualified in his/her home country—is usually neither recognised, nor accredited in Germany. Hence, in other for a refugee who is a professional not to be limited into doing odd jobs, he/she must undergo formal professional accreditation (Műller, 2021).
In this case, apprenticeship is the route to permanent professional employment for refugees. However, in the course of being an apprentice, low wages would be paid, and such refugee would have to sacrifice a minimum of three years to complete the apprenticeship through different ‘learn and train’ arrangements, and be prepared to write local Chamber of Commerce in each of the specific profession (Műller, 2021; IZA, 2016). Refugees are expected to initiate a recognition process for their qualifications earned outside Germany, but this process is often complex and bureaucratic in nature, as some of the refugees might have lost or left their professional documents while fleeing their home country (Hillmann and Koca, 2021). Even those with their certificates would have to complete a lengthy training or work experience in other to have their certificates recognised. In addition, there is stratification in the German labour market for the women on the basis of age, as the younger or single women could opt for new degree in Germany, while the older women find if rather difficult to either change their area of specialisation, or any discipline that would warrant yet another commitment (Hillmann and Koca, 2021).
Khan-Gökkaya and Mosko (2020) examined the process and outcome evaluation of a three-month orientation programme for refugee health professionals, and it was discovered that although the coaching experience was helpful, particularly the German technical terminology and cross-cultural course, as they brighten their chances for internship placement. However, the participating refugees complained about the timing, especially on Friday afternoons, as it clashes with their Friday prayers as Muslims, which eventually affects their wellbeing and increases their stress. This is in consonance with the findings of Fedrigo et al. (2021), which claimed that religion is one of the features of identity of the migrants in their new country where they reside. In addition, they complained about the organisation of the job shadowing, as they were left unsupervised, and some of them were mismatched with wards, as against their qualifications. They were also denied access into technical and spatial resources, as some of them complained that they do not have access to physicians’ room, and this make it rather difficult to change their cloths.
In coping with the challenges associated with migrants and refugees residing in Germany, Alhaddad (2021) submitted that the ‘newcomer’ youths rely on social support, such as family members, teachers in school, and security guards. Other youth immigrants and refugees claimed their cope with challenges using their religion. Furthermore, as posited by Tschirhart et al. (2019) that some Thai migrants in Norway sought for emotional support through prayer and meditation, while others engage in activities such as drinking alcohol or doing Karaoke. Another approach of coping with challenges by migrants and refugee is through boosting of one’s self-esteem by dismantling each of the problems into pieces and solving one after the other, thereby congratulating oneself once each problem is solved (Weishaar, 2010).
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