Employability Skills of Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors in Canary Islands

By Alonso-Bello, Estefania; Santana-Vega, Lidia E. et al. | NAER - Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research, January 2020 | Go to article overview

Employability Skills of Unaccompanied Immigrant Minors in Canary Islands


Alonso-Bello, Estefania, Santana-Vega, Lidia E., Feliciano-Garcia, Luis, NAER - Journal of New Approaches in Educational Research


1 INTRODUCTION

The arrival in Spain of a high number of Unaccompanied Foreign Minors (UAM) of North African and sub-Saharan origin is a complex social phenomenon because of its causes, consequences and challenges for the host society (Bravo & Santos-Gonzalez, 2017), According to the Resolution of the Council of the European Union (EU) 97/C221/03 of 26 June 1997 (Council of the European Union, 1997), UAMs are people "below the age of eighteen, who arrive on the territory of the Member States unaccompanied by an adult responsible for them whether by law or custom, and for as long as they are not effectively in the care of such a person".

The reasons that lead these minors to leave their countries are poverty, institutional vulnerability, inability to build a future, the fear of suffering the consequences of armed conflict, labour exploitation, harmful traditional practices, human rights violations and unrest in their country of origin (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugges, 2016).

The Canary Islands have been one of the top five regions of Spain for the entry of UAMs. The economic, political and social circumstances of their countries of origin force these minors to migrate at increasingly young ages; these circumstances also determine the objectives of their migration projects, which could be to regularize their administrative situation, or find a job to improve their living conditions and those of their families. The UAMs accepted in Spain have the following profile: a) they are 14-17 years old, b) they are mostly men, c) they have little training, d) they have contributed to sustaining their family, e) they have work experience in informal sectors of the economy, f) they lack adequate training to access the labour market in a legally secure way, g) they do not speak Spanish, h) their families encourage them to emigrate, and i) their expectations do not conform to the administrative situation of irregular immigrants (Etxeberria, Murua, Garmedia, & Arrieta, 2012; Gonzalez & Torrado, 2008; Iglesias, 2009). In addition, these young people: 1) suffer from a lack knowledge of bureaucratic proceedings, 2) are alone, with no family to turn to, 3) feel helpless in many situations because they do not know the language, 4) perceive that most of the resources available to them do not give them adequate emotional care, 5) find themselves in an irregular administrative situation which hinders their social and labour integration and independence (Bravo & Santos-Gonzalez, 2017). Despite the difficulties, UAMs are clear about their short and medium-term objectives which are as follows: a) to acquire job training to access the labour market, b) to set up a business as a means of self-employment, and c) to help their families financially (Santana, Feliciano, & Jimenez, 2016).

The recommendations contained in Regulation 604/2013 of the European Parliament, the Communication [COM(2010)213] and the Communication {SWD(2017) 129 final} from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council on the protection of unaccompanied minors (2010-2014) European Commision (2010, 2017); European Parliament (2013), call on EU Member States (a) to provide protection measures for UAMs, (b) to ensure the regularization of their administrative status and (c) to provide them with opportunities to complete their education, have access to suitable jobs and integrate into the society in which they live. In Spain, these recommendations are incorporated in part by Act No. 26/2015 of 28 July 2005 amending the system for the protection of children and adolescents.

The arrival of UAMs in the Canaries has had a great impact on the system of residential care as a protective measure, and has required the introduction of training programs to: 1) facilitate the learning of the language and culture of Spain, 2) inform the UAMs about the functioning of the administration and their legal rights, and 3) improve their employability skills. …

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