IOM, the European Commission and FIAPP conduct a workshop on the Certification of Labor Skills for Migrants

Representatives from institutions responsible for the design and management of migration, labor and education policies from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay participate in the workshop. Photo by Luis Sánchez

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the European Commission and the International and Ibero American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP, by its Spanish acronym) conducted a two- day workshop to discuss the need to develop a better certification system that recognizes the professional skills of migrants from other countries and migrants returning home from a period abroad.

Fernando Castro of Guatemala’s National Commission for Migrants, (CONAMIGUA, by its Spanish acronym), said that because the country lacks a certification system, “it loses skilled labor because they cannot find work in Guatemala, people look forward to leave Guatemala."

"For us it is very important to know about other experiences in the field of certification, such as Brazil and Colombia, and to be informed on migration policies within CONAMIGUA, as it is our duty to bring together different government institutions to look after the rights of Guatemalan migrants", Castro added.

In the workshop, held at the Spanish Agency for International Development and Cooperation (AECID by its Spanish acronym)training center in Antigua Guatemala, representatives from institutions responsible for the design and management of migration, as well as labor and education policies from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Peru and Uruguay participated.

They sought to share and learn from the experiences of other countries in order to develop comprehensive national systems that recognize the qualifications of migrants from other countries or their returning nationals.

In addition, the organizers aimed to use the workshop to strengthen institutional coordination between the Ministries of Education and Employment on one side, and the agency responsible for migration on the other.

Victor Venegas, official of the Ministry of National Education of Colombia, stated that the workshop was "very important because it allows us to understand the situation of other countries regarding certification management skills and see the challenges and opportunities they are facing."

The workshop, held April 24-26, is part of the project "Strengthening Dialogue and Cooperation Between the European Union (EU) and Latin America and the Caribbean to Establish Management Models on Migration and Development Policies", promoted by the three organizing agencies and with funds from the EU.

The event also received support from the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI), AECID’s Training Centre, CONAMIGUA and the Ministry of Labor of Guatemala.

Delbert Field, IOM Chief of Mission in Guatemala, said that the certification of skills has become a challenge to both private and public institutions.

"Returnees are at a disadvantage with their fellow citizens because in a large percentage of cases they have no formal education, technical education or a certification of labor skills, but they have the knowledge in different areas of work," Field said.

Thousands of irregular migrants from Guatemala and Central America travel to Mexico and the United States each day looking for opportunities to improve their life conditions.  

Many of them are returned to their country of origin with new language skills and work experience from different cultural environments.  In many cases, when they come back, they cannot find employment because their skills and work experience are not recognized. 

The workshop also encouraged dialogue on how to certify the skills and experience of migrants who arrive in a given country with the necessary permits but without nationally recognized qualifications.

The project contributes to the process of cooperation between the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean by improving national and regional capacities in order to enhance the ongoing exchange of information and best practices on migration and development between the regions.