The potential of peer guidance to empower migrants for employment

Satu Heimo, Katriina Tapanila, Anna Ojapelto, Anja Heikkinen

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Peerness is a common approach to learning, especially in Nordic adult education, but is increasingly adopted by European Union (EU)-funded projects that aim to improve migrants’ employability. This article discusses action research that evaluated an ESF-funded project, run by a Finnish popular adult education association in collaboration with vocational adult education institutes, NGOs, and a trade union. The project trained migrants to become peer group guides and empower migrant-background participants for employment. The training prepared guides to become experiential experts, but increased the distance between the participants and themselves. The guidance could even strengthen the otherness of participants when the peerness was based solely on sharing a migrant background. Voluntary peer guidance may reinforce this separation, but dependence on ESF funding also shapes mainstream adult education; therefore, the empowerment of migrants should build on collaboration between experiential experts and guidance professionals as part of the regular adult education system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-348
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Adult education policy
  • Employability
  • Empowerment
  • Migrants
  • Peerness

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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