This survey analyses mentors’ and migrant mentees’ perceptions of the role that cultural factors have in labour market integration and in the mentoring relationship. The data consists of Webropol surveys and interviews. The findings revealed that cultural similarity, local language proficiency and the ability to build up trust were experienced as supportive. Mentoring can promote cultural competencies. We recommend using local languages, recruiting mentors from the same professional field and including the subject ‘culture’ in the mentoring training.
Migration is considered an integral part of European economies and society, more specifically when we talk about filling gaps in the labour market. Consequently, effective methods for promoting employment and facilitating integration and labour market entry are important. For a good understanding, we take a brief look at the concepts of integration and mentoring. Integration is described as a social, cultural, political and economic process that takes place when migrants arrive in a new society (Martiniello, 2006). Bidirectional integration (OECD, 2018; Ala-Kauhaluoma et al., 2018) refers not only to accommodating migrants but understanding that changes are happening also at the societal level (Kärkkäinen, 2011; Csillag & Scharle, 2017). Regarding mentoring, we use the definition of De Cuyper and others (2019):
A person with more localised experience (mentor) provides guidance to a person with less experience (mentee), the objective of which is to support the mentee in making sustainable progress in his or her journey into the labour market. Both mentor and mentee voluntarily commit to this and establish contact on a regular basis. The relationship is initiated, facilitated and supported by a third actor (organisation). While asymmetrical, the mentoring relationship is of a reciprocal nature.