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Critical Skills for Life and Work

Developing the Professional Intercultural Communicative Competence of highly-skilled refugees

According to the BBC and Eurostat there are about a million refugee asylum seekers in the EU. Educational attainment varies by country of origin, but in the case of Syria, the largest single source of refugees, around 6% of refugees are graduates, a majority of which have prior professional experience before being forced to flee. This means that among Syrian refugees alone there are over 5,000 professionals who might be able to contribute key professional skills and experience to their host countries. Currently, these so-called highly skilled refugees are not well served. This project aims to design and implement effective training tools for enhancing key skills and competences of both highly skilled refugees and the language teachers who work with them, and thus enhance the employability and societal integration of skilled refugees. 

Project Activities     Products      

Research theme: Multilingualism and Language learning
Duration: 01/09/2017 - 31/08/2019
Coordinating partner: University of Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom)
Mercator staff: Anna-Fardau Schukking, Cor van der Meer
Funding: Erasmus+
Collaboration with: University of Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom), Universitaet Graz (Austria), Action Foundation (United Kingdom)

Project Activities

This project focuses on improving a specific competence of highly skilled refugees: professional intercultural communicative competence (PICC), i.e. the ability to understand cultures, including your own, and use this understanding to communicate with people from other cultures successfully. 

The project aims to develop learning opportunities for highly skilled refugees and to improve the skills of their educators with regards to teaching PICC. 



The project will develop a toolkit comprised of two training modules:

  • One aimed at highly skilled refugees: 'Professional intercultural communicative competence for work and life’,
  • The second aimed at volunteer teachers: 'Teaching professional intercultural communicative competence’.

The toolkit will be designed in such a way, that it can be adapted to target groups in any EU country. 



Site and social media

The project Critical Skills for Life and Work has its own website and publishes newsletters:

In addition Critical Skills is active on social media: