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State Secretary Predalič: Integration policies severely shaken by COVID-19 pandemic

At the invitation of the Portuguese Presidency, State Secretary Dr Božo Predalič and Director of Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants Katarina Štrukelj joined an informal ministerial video conference on integration and the impact of the pandemic on the access of migrants to the labour market.

State Secretary Predalič commended the Portuguese initiative agreeing with the rest of the participants that "the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted integration policies and that access to the labour market by migrants is no exception either." Slovenia adopted a number of measures to address in as flexible way as possible the status and rights of workers in essential professions. "Sadly, many were left out of work as a result of the pandemic, but this occurred independently of their worker status. Those with fixed-term contracts were made to leave their jobs first," said Predalič noting "that in Slovenia these workers have been supported with unemployment benefits and solidarity allowances."

"Foreign workers make up an important workforce as in many occupations they fill the gap between demand and supply. Consequently, Slovenia gives special emphasis on learning the Slovenian language." The Employment Service of Slovenia implements training and counselling programmes adapted to migrants, taking into consideration their migrant background with which they enter the labour market. There is also an emphasis on the constant promotion of learning the Slovenian language.

The meeting, which was a follow-up to a similar event held under the German Presidency of the Council of the European Union last November, was an informal exchange of views on the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the integration of migrants into the labour market. The event took place in the light of the recent presentation by the European Commission of the new Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021–2027.

Slovenia supports the new Action Plan on Integration, which focuses on promoting labour market integration, eliminating various forms of discrimination against migrants and encouraging partnerships at different levels, from local to national.