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Swisscontact’s first regional forum: «Economic Reintegration of Returning Migrants»

The Regional Forum for the Economic Reintegration of Returned Migrants «A Public-Private-Civil Society Alliance» organised by Swisscontact took place in San Salvador, El Salvador on August 30th and 31st. The forum aimed to create a space for discussion and exchange of experience about return migration within and outside the Central American region.

The «Foro Regional» was opened by Saúl Díaz Ortiz, Swisscontact’s Country Director in El Salvador. His inspiring speech underlaid the importance of supporting people who lived abroad for many years in finding their place in the Salvadorian society again and to fight together the discrimination of deported men and women returning to their home country. The Swisscontact project “New Opportunities” certifies the returnees and enables them in finding employment and increase their income.


Rosilyne Borland, IOM provided a background on the different dimensions of the reintegration process of returnees. «Re-integration does not only affect the returnees, but also the receiving communities and families» she pointed out. A successful integration covers the economic dimensions and the social and psychological dimension. Sandra Rothböck, Senior Advisor in Vocational Training and Skills development of Swisscontact spoke about the importance of schemes of recognition of labour skills as a tool to increase employability and competitiveness. The public was interested in the recognition of prior learning and how to tackle that topic in the Central American context.

Policy and programme experiences from other Latin American countries

The second day was dedicated to policy and programme experiences from other Latin American countries on migration and reintegration support for returning migrants.

Mario Cadena López presented how Ecuador designed a special programme for returning migrants, the «Plan Retorno». Igor Dedic, board member of ChileValora, held a presentation on the National Certification System for Labor Competencies, which aims to increase the competencies of people through evaluation and certification aligned with the demands of the labour market. «Undertaking a trip to another country is always a commitment to a dream: to find better conditions for oneself and the family. The recognition of one's experience and culture should be valued by Chile and considered a contribution to its development», Igor explained.

Migration is a complex phenomenon that requires shared responsibility and collaboration

Omar Villarreal, General Director CONOCER, focused on the challenge that local companies are reluctant to hire and invest in returning migrants even when migrants are certificated. There is the (wrongly) fear that returning migrants could re-emigrate soon again. He clearly stressed out: «The only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave, is to not train them, and have them stay».


The panel discussion brought together local actors involved in the Swisscontact project «New Opportunities». It clearly showed that recognizing labor skills of returning migrants is a win-win situation for all involved parties: better re-integration opportunities for the returning migrant itself and access to qualified workforce for the private sector.


Overall the «Foro Regional» was a great platform to exchange experiences and to get regional attention on this pressuring topic. There was a common agreement on migration is a complex phenomenon that requires shared responsibility and collaboration from the public and private sector as well as civil society. More attention is needed to promote the positive contribution of (returning) migrants to development and society. «We (Salvadorian Society) have a liability for returning migrants from the US. It’s time to provide opportunities to facilitate their reintegration», said Ricardo Monenegro, president of INSAFORP.

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