Bertelsmann Stiftung

, Competence cards: Recognizing and utilizing the potential of people with migrant backgrounds

People with migrant backgrounds still suffer significant disadvantages with respect to educational and professional opportunities. However, many newcomers have valuable experience and qualifications. In cooperation with various partners, we have developed Competence Cards for immigration counselling in order to speed up the recognition and utilization of such qualifications and experience.

Competence Cards for professional and immigration counselling

Social, personal and methodical competences are becoming more and more important on the labour market. In 2014, there were no standardized tools to determine whether immigrants possessed such skills. The existing methods were only limitedly suited with respect to this target group: They are often language-heavy, complex and time-consuming. This was demonstrated in a survey of immigration counsellors and competence assessment experts. We therefore developed the Competence Cards in cooperation with the organisations responsible for providing immigration counselling to adult immigrants (Arbeiterwohlfahrt (worker’s welfare), Deutscher Caritasverband (German Caritas Association), Paritätischer Gesamtverband (General Association for Equality), Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross), Diakonie (social welfare organisation of protestant churches), Zentralwohlfahrtsstelle der Juden in Deutschland (Central Welfare Office for Jews in Germany), Bund der Vertriebenen (Federation of Expellees)) and the Forschungsinstitut Betriebliche Bildung (f-bb). In the medium-term, we want to improve the educational and professional situation of immigrants in Germany.

The Competence Cards are customized to both the immigrants’ and the counsellors’ needs. They can be used flexibly, are practically oriented, visualize competences and are compatible with further counselling agencies like the JobCenter and public employment agencies. They can also be used in groups as a PowerPoint presentation (see below). The Competence Cards have been translated into eight languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Tigrinya.

Evaluation: Users confirm additional value offered by Competence Cards

More than 12,000 sets of Competence Cards have been ordered since December 2015. The first survey of users was performed in mid-2016. More than 200 counsellors participated. They confirmed that, with the help of the Competence Cards, they were able to get to know clients faster and better (65% of the users) and could better document the competence assessment (63%) than before. They were also able to design the counselling to be more practice-oriented (57%), flexible (48%) and less time-consuming (40%) with the help of the cards. More than half the respondents agree that the Competence Cards meet a need, which, to-date had remained unmet (52%).
However, there were also suggestions for improvement. The evaluation resulted in the cards being expanded to include Tigrinya and Farsi and open licensing (see below). Suggestions were also made regarding the addition of further competences and a development of Career Cards, focussing on vocational skills.

You can find more information about the evaluation in our blog (in German). You can find the detailed evaluation report here (in German). You can also find the results of another survey on the application of the Competence Cards in practice from the beginning of 2017 here (in German).

In addition to the people who use the Competence Cards, also external assessors gave the tool high marks. As a result, the Competence Cards were nominated for the Global VPL Prize in April 2017 at the 2nd international Biennale on Validation of Prior Learning in Aarhus.

Explainer Video: Competence Cards for potential analysis in immigration counseling: Flexible application options for migration and career counsellors

The Competence Cards are now licensed under CC BY SA

In order to optimally tailor the cards to the needs of the respective counselling agency, they are registered under the open license CC BY SA 4.0. In addition, this also establishes the requirement for a user-based, sustainable improvement and scaling process.

“In the future, open licenses should become a standard for products created by publicly financed organizations. On the one hand, because the products constantly have to be adapted to the target group and should therefore be possible easily for the end user. On the other hand, because we, as a foundation or association, have an obligation toward society as a result of the public funding we are granted. We can better fulfil that obligation by improving the usability of the products we make. The CC licenses offer an opportunity in this respect. We are pleased that, in cooperation with the Forschungsinstitut Betriebliche Bildung gGmbH and the non-statutory welfare organisations in Germany, we are able to offer the Competence Cards as a open educational resource,”  says Frank Frick, Director of the program “Learning for Life”.

You can find more information about the use of the CC license here.
Do you want to create your own cards? Get in touch with us and we will provide you the open files (including Adobe InDesign files, images, descriptions, etc.).
Do you want to share your version of the cards with others? Just send us a short description so we can publish it on our blog blog.aus-und-weiterbildung.eu. Or tweet about your cards using #CompetenceCards.

Competence card downloads in 10 languages

You can download a free Competence Card set in seven languages to print out yourself. If you want to use the Competence Cards for a group project, use our PowerPoint presentation, which we are happy to provide as a PDF or PowerPoint.  You can also use the nine foreign language versions to show your clients the cards in their own language on the screen while working with the actual cards. The template for documenting the competence assessment is also available in all ten languages and can be downloaded as a Word document, e.g. so you can delete competences the client does not possess and as a PDF for quick printing.