Interculturality was a theme of a workshop organised in le Puy-en-Velay in November 2014 with a focus on supporting trainers working with migrants through intercultural learning.

Interculturality takes into account the diversity of cultural codes and the conscience of attitudes and behaviours created by alterity. It allows to respect the existing differences. A discussion took place on the difference between multiculturality, interculturality and transculturality. What is the more appropriate word to use in our context?

In UK, policy focuses on fighting racism and discriminations. UK recognises minorities as groups having their own identity and self-defines itself as a multicultural society.

In Spain, there is a recognition of different nationalities within the country, together with a diversity of official languages. Interculturality approach has been developped to take into account the cultural diversity brought by recent immigration.

In France, there is no recognition of minority groups as such, with specific rights eventhough France is composed of several cultures. Comunitarism is a negative concept, associated with a social segmentation.  The recognition of the identity of immigrant groups is done through the concept of interculturality. Knowing about different cultures is (a little) part of the school programs. The transmission of the culture of immigrants is not encouraged. These aspects must remain in the private space so that the French integration model can be achieved.


Too often the background of migrants is not taken into account when they look for work in the host country. With different experiences, different qualifications and references, they are asked to behave in accordance to the work culture of the host country. They tend to "forget" their own culture and to hide it. On the contrary, participants thinks that the culture of the migrant can bring a lot of added value to the companies in the host country. It is important to be able to valorise our own culture and to put it as a strength. 
Brainstorming: How to add value with our own culture?

Many aspects can be emphasised when searching for a job or when someone has the project to create a company. These assets are the knowledge of various languages, some of them being sometimes not very usual and looked for by companies. The knowledge of other cultures is another one. Depending on the type of companies, the knowledge of other countries can be useful for sales and marketing purposes: opening of new markets, knowledge of potential customers needs or preferences, use of foreign networks, adaptation of marketing. It can concern also the knowledge of different working techniques that can pas from one country to another as an example was given by one of the participants in the construction sector (some construction techniques can help to reduce the cost).
The experience of migration and the migration path is the proof that the person is able to adapt and that she is able to cope with various situations (risky and difficult situations in some cases). These soft skills are useful in most of the companies: ability to work in team, ability to adapt to a changing environment, flexibility in the working conditions. Seeing things from a different perspective, another culture, another history, others values, may facilitate the development/introduction of innovation within a company. A little bias is often needed to introduce changes in a process.
Other attitudes and soft skills such as motivation (immigration is a process that shows the determination of a person to reach a better life, to improve the living conditions) or the capacity to work hard (this being one of the most wanted characteristics by companies according to a survey conducted by Greta among local companies in Velay in 2012).
By learning a new language (the one of the welcome country) and new cultural codes, the migrant shows her/his ability to learn and to manage lifelong learning processes. Being able to learn permanently at all ages is key for any worker.
All these soft skills are transversal skills and transferable skills: they are useful to find a job, to change job and to occupy a job in any sector, whatever is the size or the nature of the company.
Brainstorming: How to valorise our own culture?

Brainstorming : Foreigner is an asset

A discussion has taken place on the possibility to face prejudices: “how to behave, how to act when we face prejudices?” It is not easy to give tips in that area. The person can try to evidence the opposite of the stereotype taking as example her history and experience. It is also possible to explain that the features concerned concerned by prejudices are at the level of the individual, and not at the level of the group. But by definition, prejudices are very difficult to change and to eradicate. Indeed, they are the main barrier to employment that immigrants face in EU countries. It is of utmost importance to prepare well the job interview, to know well the characteristics of the company in which we are looking for a job in order to detect any details that can be used to fight prejudices or to valorise specific experience or knowledge.

Another discussion has taken place around a tool that is useful to track and present the competences of a person: the portfolio of competences. It may also be used as an illustrative support to lower the level of prejudices from the employer. It can be used to prove the possession of some skills, job-related skills, or more largely, soft sills needed in any kind of company. The portfolio can develop and support the self-confidence of job seekers. It is a tangible product, that can be materialised in a book or in a card box. It is useful to prepare a job interview, to prepare the writing of a curriculum vitae targeted for a specific job, but also during the job interview itself, to illustrate some key steps of a learning path, or to show some personal achievements (in a work context or outside work).

Learning resources for trainers' training

  • A guidebook to develop intercultural competences for vocational trainers working with migrants : Civet Guidebook. It provides group activities such as role plays and discussions about case studies to develop the intercultural competence of trainers. It also explains the concept of simplified language and gives examples on how to use it with learners who are not familiar with the language of the host country. 
  • A learning module for those who wish to develop their skills to work with people from another country or a different culture (developed by Q-Mobil).

  • A Training module for trainers (in French).

Resources to use with learners

Background resources