Cedefop has been working for the past year to support adult refugees in Greece in pursuing job opportunities in Portugal and legally cross borders for employment while keeping their international protection status.

This project is in the frame of a bilateral agreement signed between Greece and Portugal that foresees the relocation of 100 to 1000 adult refugees and asylum seekers, with the support of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD), the migration authorities in the two countries and NGOs in Greece.

The 2021 World Refugee Day (20 June) theme, ‘together we heal, learn and shine’, relates to the spirit of the project.

With the support of the NGOs in Greece, potential candidates among unemployed refugees are identified based on their skills and competences and, above all, their interest in moving to Portugal.

The profiles of more than 70 refugees were shared with Portuguese employers. More than 90 enterprises coming from a variety of sectors have been contacted and a significant number of them have expressed their interest in employing refugees from Greece.

Employers have shown interest in hiring refugees either due to a corporate social responsibility strategy or to a struggle in finding workers with specific qualifications or experience. The selection process from the enterprises is ongoing and the first successful applicants are expected to arrive in Portugal in autumn 2021.

Recognising that, although vulnerable, refugees are an untapped source of human capital, Cedefop has been working since 2018 to put the basis for a skills-based complementary pathway in the EU. The pathway would allow refugees to legally move from a first host country (within or outside the EU) to an EU receiving country based on their skills and competences and human capital needs.

The ongoing collaboration with Greece, as sending country, and Portugal, as receiving country, is ground-breaking. It demonstrates, for the first time in the EU, how countries may apply this type of solutions, and what needs to be done at the EU level for these to work in complementarity to other international protection initiatives aimed at supporting refugees in finding durable solutions for their needs.

More on Cedefop’s work on adult refugee legal mobility here.

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