Computer training promotes technical skills.
Participants identified a number of ways that
computers are important. Respondents that
received computer training reported higher
computer and internet skill levels than those
that did not receive training (Figure 1). For
these women, training seems to make the difference
between “no skills” and “basic skills.”
Higher computer skill levels do not necessarily correlate with employment.
While computer skills are often necessary to
find a job or write a resume, computer skills
alone are not sufficient to obtain employment.
Skill level is not an indicator of employment
for immigrant women. But this does not
mean that computer training does not promote
employability. Trainees with basic skills
may have recently begun computer training
precisely because they are unemployed.
The case of Hungary,
Italy, the Netherlands,
Romania, and Spain
Social and cultural skills may be as important as technical skills.
Social and cultural
skills, such as the ability to communicate in
different settings or work as a team, may be
important employability skills. Computer
training can catalyze the development of
these skills. Trainees often develop more
nuanced social and cultural skills by spending
time with other participants. Sometimes
computers are used to directly promote
social skills, such as in language courses.
NGOs are crucial community resources.
Especially for immigrant women who are
building social capital, opportunities to
learn from and with others are crucial.
Respondents consistently identified NGOs
as safe learning environments. The organizations
are trusted resources for finding
jobs and getting important information
about day-to-day life. Respondents also take
advantage of a variety of NGOs — 90% of
trainees frequent more than two NGOs.
Stronger and diversified social networks help in a variety of ways.
Immigrant women often
develop close, new relationships when they
enroll in computer courses. They also use
technology to communicate with friends and
family, both in their old and new countries.
These bridging and bonding relationships
help them find work, improve quality of life,
and are indicators of social integration.
Social integration deepens with length of stay
With longer residence in the new country,
immigrant women increasingly engage
with organizations outside the immigrant
community (such as tenants’ associations,
neighborhood groups, or public libraries).
Conversely, participation in events within
their own ethnic or language groups decreases
significantly — by almost 20% — after living
in the host country for more than ten years.
Home-country training is often not recognized.
Many women reported significant
vocational training or experience
their countries of origin (as nurses, office
etc.). As new arrivals, however,
many found that their credentials were
not recognized and therefore sought work
in different fields. Forty-six percent of
women reported that their current jobs
did not relate to their skills or training.