1. About REALISE

A) Rationale
B) Activities
1. Creating Panels of Local key Stakeholders (PLS)
2. Local diagnosis of severity and cause of over-qualification
3. Establishing a Transnational Knowledge Exchange and Learning programme
4. Pilot Local Interventions
5. Designing long-term strategies to scale-up pilot interventions to policy level
6. Building awareness and maximising dissemination
C) Duration
D) Budget
E) Programme



Europe 2020 is the EU’s strategy for growth and economic revival over the next nine years. The stated objective is for Europe to become a smart, sustainable and inclusive economy, enjoying high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. To succeed, Europe must better activate its human capital, increasing levels of skills attainment, innovation and dynamism.

However, Europe’s labour market is currently marked by significant mismatches between qualifications workers already have and employment they obtain – particularly immigrants, youth and women.

The EC report ‘Employment in Europe 2008’ finds third-country nationals in Europe disproportionately employed in jobs for which they are overqualified. The economic crisis’ impact is stronger on non-EU nationals, who experienced the sharpest employment rate declines, as indicated by ‘Employment in Europe 2010’ (4.3% of non-nationals versus 2.3%for nationals, 2008/Q2-2010/Q2). The crisis´ effects, the report concludes, may well be enduring, thus requiring particular support for groups most affected: young people, migrants and women.

The OECD reports, ‘A profile of Immigrant Populations in the 21st Century’ in 2008 and ‘Matching Educational Background And Employment: A challenge For Immigrants in Host Countries‘ in 2007, identified (in EU and OECD areas):

  • In most countries, immigrants are more likely overqualified for their jobs than persons born in the country, particularly in Southern Europe (Italy, Greece, Spain) and some Northern European Countries (Denmark, Sweden);
  • In all countries, except Ireland and Portugal, immigrants remain overqualified even after 10 years of residence in the country;
  • On average 50% of skilled migrants are inactive, unemployed or in jobs for which they are over-qualified;
  • Over-qualification is greater among newcomers and migrant women, Greece and Italy having the highest rates of migrant women over-qualification.

Research identified several barriers preventing migrants from accessing jobs matching their qualifications:

  • Recognition of degrees acquired in country of origin;
  • Employers have no knowledge about validity of academic or occupational qualifications acquired in country of origin;
  • Lack of social networks;
  • Regulatory aspects;
  • Discrimination.

There’s a need for focusing specifically on the generalised over-qualification of third-country nationals, and for a concrete impact on the problem. Given the structural and long-term nature of the problem, its Europe-wide relevance, the current conjuncture’s concern for economic recovery and expected future demand for skilled labour, it is urgent to find ways to better capitalise on the human resources of skilled third-country nationals, particularly youths and women, and to encourage economic dynamism. top



The REALISE project seeks to contribute towards achieving the EU 2020 objectives of a dynamic and competitive Europe through maximization of human capital, targeting qualified third-country nationals who are disproportionately overqualified for their jobs.  REALISE targets qualified third-country nationals (holding professional – occupational post-secondary qualification, e.g. nurses, teachers, etc – or higher education qualifications), particularly women and youths (up to age 30 according to the ‘Youth In Action’ definition).

To achieve these objectives, REALISE will undertake the following activities:

1. Creating Panels of Local key Stakeholders (PLS): REALISE will gather key actors from business, public and third sectors and, crucially, qualified third-country nationals themselves, to jointly tackle over-qualification of third-country nationals. Each partner location (district, city or region) will create a Panel of Local Key Stakeholders, with 8-10 members. Each PLS will establish a participatory work process and an inclusive decision-making mechanism. The approach is that holistic integrated measures, supported by key stakeholders and decision-makers, will be put in place to ensure long-term sustainability.

2. Local diagnosis of severity and cause of over-qualification: Throughout Europe, over-qualification disproportionately affects skilled third-country nationals; severity and cause differ from place to place, depending on factors like local labour market conditions, migration history, etc. Actions need to be local to meaningfully address specific circumstances, thus requiring a dual-level local diagnosis:

    a) Severity: how good or bad is a locality at getting skilled third-country nationals in jobs matching their qualifications? Problem severity at local level will be gauged and compared.

    b) Multiple-causes: what factors most contribute locally to over-qualification (discrimination, red-tape, language…) and what are the relationships between these factors?

3. Establishing a Transnational Knowledge Exchange and Learning programme: Sharing knowledge and enhancing transnational learning are important parts of successful work in REALISE. Influenced by Action Learning methodology – i.e. in not being a merely analytical exercise, but focusing on formulating actions to actually be taken and on building agreement and commitment to the pilot interventions and resultant long-term strategies. The programme will be structured around three transnational workshops:

    Workshop 1 addresses local diagnostic findings and development of pilot local interventions.

    Workshop 2 addresses implementation and evaluation of pilot interventions.

    Workshop 3 addresses development of long-term strategy plans and preparation of the closing EU event.

In all workshops external experts and case studies will be involved to provide the partners with capacity-building.

4. Pilot Local Interventions: Partners will share diagnostic findings to agree priorities and create specific local pilot interventions, contributing to achieving EU 2020 goals of full activation of skilled human capital.

  • Pilot interventions are implemented and tested with a small group of beneficiaries representative of local specificities.
  • Pilot interventions will build on existing suitable practices within and outside the partnership and on the learning acquired in the transnational exchange and learning programme.
  • Each Pilot intervention addresses multiple factors the diagnosis identified locally. They must develop a complete approach, not addressing only single or minor factors, e.g. language barrier only.
  • Pilot Local Interventions will be implemented through short-term interventions, upon which longer-term strategy will be built.
  • Development and implementation of Pilot Local Interventions will be monitored and evaluated continuously, allowing for quickly adaptive action.


5. Designing long-term strategies to scale-up pilot interventions to policy level: Pilot Local Intervention experience will inform the design of long-term strategies for addressing third-country national over-qualification, as part of 2020 implementation. To ensure final plans are implemented and have on-the-ground impact, partners will use the first phase of the project to actively build key stakeholder engagement and commitment.

6. Building awareness and maximising dissemination: A one-day event will be organised at the Brussels European Parliament with over 100 participants including key parliamentarians, European Commission representatives, local politicians, decision-makers and practitioners of partner countries, plus third-country national participants in the project. The objective is to raise awareness of the over-qualification of migrants- particularly as this under-capitalisation of human resources relates to economic recovery and Europe 2020, and to preview guidelines for tackling the issue to be published subsequently based on the experiences and findings of the project.

Duration: 01 September 2011 – 01 March 2013

Budget: 713,577.00 €

EU programme: European Integration Fund



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