Adaptation has progressed rapidly in Estonia, bu the primary area of concern for newly-arrived migrants in the country is the availability of information in foreign languages, it appears from a midterm evaluation of applied research into the adaptation of newly-arrived migrants and the Welcoming Programme during the 2015-2018 period commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior.
The first part of the study focused on fields facilitating adaptation, such as general paperwork, language learning, education, the labor market, healthcare, accommodation and leisure. The second part the study assessed the performance of the ministry-coordinated Welcoming Programme.
The study highlights that across various sectors, there are a lot of service providers in the field, and an area of concern is the fragmentation of information in foreign languages. Given the novelty of adaptation policy in Estonia, many services are in the development phase and constantly changing, and many of the recommendations outlined in the study are already in the works.
The coordination and development of services in Estonia is constantly being addressed, and a successful example thereof is the migration adviser service offered by the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), or the recently launched Tartu Welcome Centre.
"The need for services supporting adaptation is on the rise in Estonia, and it is important that the state at this point supports both employers and local governments, which are the first to face the needs of newly-arrived migrants," said Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa).
The midterm evaluation of the Welcoming Programme confirmed the results of previous studies and indicated that program participants highly valued the content of the modules offered and their usefulness in the adaptation process. The most popular modules for newly-arrived migrants remain language learning as well as the base module, which provides an overview of daily activities for getting started in Estonia.
Solman said that the satisfaction of newly-arrived migrants with the Welcoming Programme is an example of the importance of the state in providing these opportunities.
"In order for newly-arrived migrants to contribute to Estonian society, we as a state must create the necessary conditions to do so," she added.
Room for improvement
Bottlenecks of the program include its lack of flexibility when it comes to content issues and the opportunity to join the modules before or immediately upon arriving in Estonia.
The target group's low level of awareness of the program was also highlighted separately, as it indicates that information regarding the existence of the program does not always reach all potential participants.
The study was commissioned by the Ministry of the Interior, conducted by the Institute of Baltic Studies in collaboration with the design agency Velvet, and funded by the European Social Fund.
Editor: Aili Vahtla