WhomeN research published

The reseach on women training needs has been published. Find bellow a short presentation and in ‘Project Results‘ you can find the Full Report and its Summary in several languages



The purpose of the study was to allow a step of fine tuning of the Project strategy with a deeper diagnosis of women situation, training needs and difficulties. With the study it will be easier to define soft skills acquisition/recognition paths and to better propose the experimentation of this protocol.

This study was conducted in seven countries, where women were divided in two main categories: (1) immigrant and refugee women from Germany, Italy (Veneto region), Romania and Spain (Andaluzia) and (2) women over 45 from Bulgaria, Latvia and Slovenia.

The research combined quantitative and qualitative methods, aiming at a bottom-up approach, involving directly the participants. It was developed in five steps: (1) research the state of the art, (2) collect statistical data for analysis, (3) conduct 158 interviews and analyse the questionnaires, (4) put in place seven focus group (one per country, 120 women in total) and (5) elaborate the SWOT analysis of the data collected.


Here we present the main data and conclusions of the study obtained from the interviews and the focus groups, which in many cases overlap and in other are complementary. The full detailed information, data and conclusion can be found on the full report, available in the Project website: http://www.whomen.eu. In particular you will find details about a multitude of aspects and variables, such as involved groups, socioeconomic characterisation per country, state of art by country, main ideas and conclusions of each country and all the numbers and statistics collected.


Most of the women interviewed are 45 years old or older (61,4%), while 14% are under 30. A total of 120 are immigrants and refugees coming from Europe (45%), Asia (23,4%) and America (20,9%). Almost half of them are living in the hosting countries for four years or more and most have a permit of residence and work. Even if 44,3% are still unsure about staying in the hosting country, 48,1% declared this to be their goal. Most of them have children, while around 20% live alone.

Apart from the women from Maghreb region and women over 45, most of the women have high qualifications – 38,7% have a university degree and 12,1% a vocational diploma, while 21,6% have completed secondary school education. Formal recognition of studies and training were possible for only to 38% of them. The non recognition of studies and experiences forces them to accept jobs that have a low pay and are inadequate their profile and competences (as 24% stated).


Most of the refugee and migrant women feel unmotivated and overwhelmed when faced with the problems and challenges posed to their integration in the hosting countries, where many times they are in irregular situation and ignore labour law or education systems. Red tape is one of the major obstacles, especially among the group from Germany where more than 90% of women referred this aspect. The lack of systematic, clear and transparent information from job and training centres is probably at the centre of the missed opportunities, as women cannot find or understand what is available for them – a feeling of miscommunication and misunderstanding is prevalent towards local and public services. Ignorance or insufficient information is felt by 47,5% of the interviewed women. A solution considered adequate is the use of mediators.

Discrimination is felt daily for racial and religious reasons, being the wearing of the hijab, one of the most commonly mentioned situations. Discrimination also exists towards women over 45 in terms of lack of work opportunities and recognition of their skills and competences. Finally, social exclusion varies according to geography: women who live in rural areas face worse conditions to access training and work, as opportunities are fewer and costs of distance/commuting are higher than of those women living in urban areas.

Language barriers are still a problem for integration, work and training and it prevails also in hosting countries as civil servants do not speak other languages like English or Arabic. Moreover, neither training nor support seems to be easily available in other languages.

One interesting aspect came to light in Italy: the unemployment for these women represents not only lack of income and of professional achievements/careers, but also long periods of stagnation and inactivity that isolate them from society. Training is seen by 30,8% as a way to socialize, create networks and meet new people. Consequently, raising awareness among societies, employers and communities is extremely important in order to give space for women networks, mentoring and organisations, as the WhomeN project seemed to represent for some of them.


The challenge of balancing professional life with personal life is at the centre women’s concerns, and that is why, for many, the solution was to become self-employed, which poses challenges in terms of their preparation and support as entrepreneurs.

Besides the language barriers previously mentioned, there are also distance barriers as they have to commute, representing time and money costs for these women. Additionally, age also becomes a discriminating factor.

Currently, in the group interviewed, 32,5% are unemployed, 10% are working without contract and only 28,3% have permanent contracts. Their works are related mostly with agriculture and services, in particular taking care of dependents (elders and children). More than half (54,7%) would change jobs if they could, but their motivations and expectations are very low when it comes to a possible change of professional area.

Altogether, 61% of the women declared to be hard even to find a job. The most common difficulties mentioned are: lack of employment, age, lack of experience, lack of training and lack of communication skills.


Levels of participation in informal and formal training seem to be associated with the level of education, according to the data collected in Bulgaria: the higher the level of education, the more women look for and participate in lifelong learning strategies. Informal training ranges from face-to-face and computer-base training to television or radio assistance. Nonetheless, the level of interest to participate in training for the whole sample is quite high: 82%.

Many women point the struggle of recognizing the studies and diplomas achieved in their home countries, as the demanded requirements, details and papers make it extremely difficult. Italian women’s group suggest bilateral cooperation with countries of origin to facilitate recognition processes. Moreover, in countries like Germany, the non-recognition of skills acquired informally represents an added challenge, as personal skills like ICT, language or work experiences, cannot be a formal part of their CV.

On one hand, women face strict requirements to enter in training actions, even when they are provided without fees, because other requirements are applied, such as nationality, residence and/or work permit or proven experience in the training topic. On the other hand, many women say that training is not adequate to labour market needs or it is not up to date, as it is the case of ICT trainings. Furthermore, they consider the enrolment fees to be expensive (14,6%) and the timetable incompatible with their personal obligations (12,1%). Also mentioned as an obstacle is the heterogeneity of training groups regarding language level or starting learning point, which damages practical learning, in spite of human richness.

Only 37,4% of the women who participated in courses considered them to have been useful for their employability and 17% state that training does not respond to their training needs.


With their life paths, women recognize to have acquired several skills and competences such as responsibility, communication skills (written and oral), ability to work in teams and self esteem to perform. On a second level of importance, we can find time management, planning and ICT skills.

Furthermore, several women have mentioned that, regarding their time limitations and lack of opportunity women networks of solidarity and shared projects, as well as self-employment, was, in many cases, the solution found.

The most mentioned interests and needs are: deepen ICT skills, learn foreign languages, master job search techniques, get to know about hospitability and management businesses, commercial activities and costumer services.

These priorities are coherent with the self-assessment women made in the questionnaire of different soft skills, being the following the ones they feel to be non-existent or weaker: autonomy and initiative, mathematical thinking, job searching/employability, ICT, results orientation, costumer attention, adaptation and flexibility, autonomous learning, resisting to frustration, time management and self-effectiveness, negotiation and conflict resolution, organisation, responsibility taking, teamwork, social and civic skills, quality orientation, communication.

This means that an adequate training needs to focus on four dimensions simultaneously: self-management; social dynamics; technical capacities; life path planning/following.

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