Coaching, certification and psychosocial support for returnee migrants

The large number of Guatemalan and Salvadoran migrants who have returned to their home country in recent years poses significant challenges for their sustainable reintegration, especially in terms of finding employment. Swisscontact has been successful in assisting the reintegration process of migrants since 2016, as demonstrated by the case study "Supporting returnees’ employment in Guatemala" where the New Opportunities project takes centre stage.

This case was included as a success story in the International Organization for Migration (IOM) document FOSTERING RETURNEES' EMPLOYMENT, which provides an overview of the activities, results and lessons learned from our efforts to support the employment of returning migrants in Guatemala and El Salvador.

The reintegration model promoted in this case starts with the identification of the migrant returnees involving local administrations, NGOs and academia. Their profiles are then analysed according to their qualifications, work experience, education and location, with a minimum requirement of two years of work experience in a foreign country. They are then grouped according to their employment potential.

Swisscontact contributed to the reintegration of migrants through the New Opportunities project and used the Coaching for Employment and Entrepreneurship (C4EE) methodology developed together with the University of Lucerne to achieve the socio-economic integration of returnees. 

As a result, in El Salvador, 313 returnees were certified for their skills in the construction and tourism sectors between 2018 and 2020, and 79% of certified returnees were successfully included in the labour market, including 156 returnees who benefited from job placements. 

In Guatemala, more than 200 returnees were assisted in the certification of their skills under the programme, mainly in the construction and cooking sectors, in close collaboration with the Training Institute INTECAP and the private sector.

Certifying technical skills supports the employability of returnees.

Fundación Avina and Swisscontact work with the Instituto de Técnico de Capacitación y Productividad (INTECAP) and the Ministry of Education – the only two institutions authorised in Guatemala to assess and provide returnees with valid skills certification. Their cooperation has included supporting the development of guidelines and methodologies for skills assessment, training skills assessors and working with private sector companies to establish skills frameworks for specific employment sectors.

Within the framework of "Guate te Incluye", Fundación Avina supported the certification of skills of 234 returnees, including 75 certified in construction and food preparation in cooperation with Swisscontact and INTECAP. Swisscontact continues to support the technical certification of returnees with expertise in construction (drywall and ceramic flooring) and cooking. In addition, returnees have access to certification for more than 150 skills in various industrial areas through the Ministry of Education.

Supporting the employability of returnees through psychosocial support and soft skills training

Based on the IOM approach to psychosocial support, Swisscontact conducts psychosocial group discussions to help returnees reflect on their return and reintegration process and experience, as well as psychological first aid through individual meetings for those who require it. During this process, returnees in need of further psychological support are referred to specialised institutions for individual follow-up.

Guidance and job placement

As part of its Coaching for Employment approach, Swisscontact supports groups of up to 6 returnees (with similar profiles) to facilitate their path to employment by accompanying them for four months. This path begins with the creation of individual development plans (life plans) which mainly answer two key questions: how they would like to earn a living and what steps need to be taken to achieve this. From there, the mentors accompany returnees in the process of preparing their CV, getting job interviews and internships in private companies, among other things. The mentors are recruited by fostering partnerships with the Public Employment Services and relevant private sector actors. In El Salvador, 25 coaches were trained on the C4EE methodology, including representatives from the Ministry of Labour, academia and recruiters from private sector companies.

The Nuevas Oportunidades project is financed by the Medicor Foundation, Green Leaves Education Foundation, and Däster-Schild Foundation, among other donors. It is part of the Swisscontact Development Programme, which is co-financed by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

El Salvador, Guatemala
Labour market insertion, Migration
Nuevas Oportunidades: productive reintegration of returned migrants
The project seeks the economic reintegration of returned migrants. It enables returned migrants to certify the skills they have acquired in the United States or Mexico. After certification, they are supported in finding a job or starting their own business.