Migrants: Carpentry K-ALMA, a good practice of integration and inclusion. Interview with President Gabriella Guido

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Gabriella Guido, President of the K_Alma Carpentry and Social Association

The third interview in the Migration column addressed to Gabriella Guido, President of the K_Alma Carpentry and Social Association, dedicated to the formal and informal training of asylum seekers and to anyone who wants to actively participate in courses and workshops, or self-production. A pilot initiative that represents an opportunity for the concrete integration of migrants and asylum seekers.

1) Can you briefly tell us about the experience of Kalma Association in favour of the integration of migrants in the labour market in Italy?

The project of the Carpentry and Social Workshop K_Alma  was created to offer informal training to migrants, asylum seekers and unemployed Italians. In Italy, the limbo of waiting for the request and interview to the territorial commission and for obtaining a residence permit can last even years. In this period of time it was decided to intervene by offering a space and trainers who can offer, completely free of charge, an informal training on the craft of the woodworker. Our users are followed by three master trainers, by a social worker who also accompanies them in carrying out the bureaucratic procedures necessary to face a job interview and the possible recruitment (identity card and residence).

Letters of attendance are issued to users at the end of a training cycle (semester) which are useful documentation also to demonstrate their commitment and willingness to social inclusion.

Thanks also to the concrete and supportive response of many citizens, migrants have also been able to respond to some orders from private customers who have commissioned furnishings.

2) Given the difficulty of certifying migrants‘ skills, how did you manage to do this?

On this point there is also a path of certification of informal skills that in some way certifies the previous and professional experiences had in the countries of origin and transit. In our opinion, this tool should be further enhanced because it is not often practicable to recover degrees or certificates of participation in non-EU countries.

3) From your experience what should be the role of the institutions to increase experiences like yours and provide tools like this to migrants and refugees?

Our project was a pilot, first in Italy, also for the type of systemic approach. But both the idea and the formula have been absolutely successful, despite the limits of the project itself (self-financing, limited spaces but granted free of charge, bureaucratic and organizational difficulties in finding or finding qualified bodies for the training of woodworkers willing to collaborate).

The local institutions at the level of the City Hall have been interested in our activities also looking for projects in synergy with our mission. Among our collateral activities we have often sought collaborations with the InformaGiovani or the employment centers, but the response has been very poor if not nothing.

Instead, it would have been indispensable for all the Institutions to support not so much our reality as to be able to offer real tools of professional inclusion to users who have followed two training cycles (of 6 months each) with commitment and dedication and concrete results.

Projects like ours are unfortunately few and equally necessary, also to put in system and network the different actors that are present in various ways both on local and national territory.

4) What kind of impact do these kinds of projects have also on the territory and the citizenship?

Our experience from this point of view is absolutely positive. First of all, we had a good response in terms of the media, and this allowed us to make ourselves known immediately to a very large and broad public.

Among our external activities there is always the presence of our project and that of open meetings with the citizens (workshops, open doors to carpentry, presence in local events, etc.).

The meeting between citizens and students carpenters has always been very positive, immediate, simple. Also through a discussion about the realization of a chair, it is possible to create a direct relationship without intermediaries, in a reciprocal exchange of opinions and skills, evaluations and personal experiences.

This is an added value for us, but it is an integral part of our training and inclusion project for the users of the K_Alma Carpentry and Social Workshop.

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