Rose Chacko of UK NARIC (above, right) took part in the second evaluation round of the European Qualification Passport for Refugees pilot in Athens in June.
Refugees from a range of countries, including Afghanistan and Syria, were interviewed by six credential evaluators from UK NARIC and the ENIC-NARICs of Greece, Italy, and Norway.
Out of 43 refugee interviews, 38 Qualifications Passports were issued.
The concept and process for a Qualifications Passport for Refugees was devised by UK NARIC in collaboration with our Norwegian counterpart NOKUT. The Council of Europe's Education Department is running the one-year pilot of the idea in Greece, with UK NARIC taking part, alongside NOKUT, CIMEA (the Italian NARIC), DOATEP (the Hellenic NARIC) and the Greek Ministry of Education.
The scheme is designed to address the issue of refugees and displaced persons with partial or missing documentation for their qualifications. Refugees undergo structured interviews with experienced credential evaluators to ascertain and confirm qualifications and skills. This aids rapid integration of displaced persons into host nations and the harnessing of skills for the benefit of the community.
This second evaluation round was on a larger scale than the first. The first set of candidates was interviewed in Athens in March - 19 went through interview, and 14 were issued with European Qualifications Passports.
A further evaluation round is planned for September.
Sjur Bergan from the Council of Europe presented progress on the pilot project at the recent ENIC-NARIC network meeting in Copenhagen (26-27 June).
Mr Bergan indicated that the main challenges are now to fine tune the methodology, to promote the findings and gain broad acceptance for the work. He hoped the project would provide a practical method for evaluating and integrating refugees, and thereby allow full implementation of Article VII of the Lisbon Recognition Convention.
At this pilot stage, the Passports being issued have no legal force, and have advisory status only.
An example Qualifications Passport and a flowchart of the process for the scheme can be seen on the Council of Europe website.
The 2017 pilot scheme follows a planning and preparatory meeting in Athens in November attended by UK NARIC CEO Dr Cloud Bai-Yun.
In October 2015 UK NARIC, based on its past experience in supporting Balkan refugee integration needs, developed the European qualifications passport for refugees in conjunction with NOKUT. The scheme has already been implemented in Norway.
It is understood that the current refugee situation is a shared challenge Europe is facing and that coordinated measures can benefit refugees and societies at much greater scale, assisting and speeding successful integration.