TANDEM NOW: Mentoring and Vocational Assistance for Migrant Youth

Practice Aim

To create role models for migrant youth or youth from ethnic minorities throughout of the vocational career, by understanding the needs of young people and local contexts.

Target Groups

Mentees – youngsters with migrant background/from ethnic minorities; Mentors – adult people with migrant backgrounds.


  • Coordinator: Volkshochschule Tirol (Austria)
  • Verein Multikulturell (Austria)
  • Mozaik (Turkey)
  • Goiztiri (Spain)
  • BBQ (German)
  • Exchange House (Ireland)
  • CESIE (Italy)

[DG EAC, LLP National Agency Austria – Leonardo da Vinci, Transfer of Innovation]


Mentoring works as a strategy for helping people, particularly disadvantaged groups, such as unemployed, young people and/or immigrants to improve their professional opportunities and succeed in life. It is an instrument to provide those persons with the confidence, the resources, and the skills needed to live up to their potentials.
TANDEM NOW is a Transfer of Innovation project in the framework of the European Leonardo da Vinci programme and has been funded with support from the European Commission. 60 young people between 13 and 25 years old were accompanied by mentors with the same cultural background acting as their role models. They encouraged their mentees to take up education and/or training and pursue individual career paths. It was an interesting concept which was both promising and allowed for further development.
Progress in the use of technology (such as cyber-counselling) and the introduction of new methodologies like mentoring enhanced the contributions of career counsellors to the individual development of applicants and gave access to a broader range of customers. TANDEM NOW promoted technological developments regarding mentoring and the use of ICT to improve the career opportunities of specific groups of the population. From an overall perspective, the project contributed to meet the goals of Lisbon Strategy through promoting innovation of career guidance services on a cost-effective basis, better levels of employability and an increased adaptability of workers.

Target: Vulnerable Group (VG) and type of host community

  • Mentors – adult people with migrant backgrounds
  • Mentees – youngsters with migrant background/from ethnic minorities

Application setting: context

In many European countries, migrant youths or young people from ethnic minorities do not have any role models in future-oriented fields throughout their job careers, neither within their families nor in their social contexts. If at all, they tend to take up traditional job trainings and jobs, as they and their families do not consider other options for various reasons.
Therefore, it is considered crucial to offer youngsters mentors from their own ethnic communities who accompany them on their way to a successful VET and job career. In Italy, 43.8 % of young migrants abandon their school education (as opposed to 16.4 % of young home country nationals).
The study “Life and employment situation of migrant young people with minor presence at the labour market in the Tyrol”, led by Prof. Dr. Gudrun Biffl and Andreas Steinmayer (Donau-Universität krems) and Natalia Wächter (Austrian Institute for Research on Young People) shows that these young people need a specific career orientation and assistance when starting a job or an apprenticeship. http://www.pakte.at/literatur/3/4423.html


  • To create role models for migrant youth or youth from ethnic minorities throughout of the vocational career, using experience and results of the initial Tandem project.
  • To contribute to the effective training of mentors by understanding the needs of young people and local contexts.
  • To develop ‘blended mentoring’ (a mix of face-to-face and online activities) enabling mentoring to be easily integrated into career counselling.


The requirement profiles for the mentors and mentees should be set up beforehand.
The following criteria are decisive:

  • a) Requirement profile for mentees:
    • The first steps in career choice have already been taken
    • Commitment and interest
    • Time for mentoring and continuous collaboration
    • Being open to talk about one’s ideas, weaknesses and fears
    • The ability to take criticism
  • b) Requirement profile for mentors

In addition to time spent on regular (online) meetings, mentors should bring in openness and the willingness to build up a dialogue. In order to offer support, the mentor should be able to implement the basic techniques of active listening. Only if mentors are able to understand the concerns of their mentees, they will be able to offer their knowledge of experience in a concrete and usable way. Here, mentors should take care that the share they allocate to speaking themselves is generally lower than that of their counterpart.
Mentors take care to achieve a good ratio of closeness and distance. They provide for a trustful, open and supportive relationship that endures stresses and strains and that allows for critical and correcting impulses. Mentoring requires empathy, involvement and understanding, e.g. when the mentee is unable to cope with their situation. Showing empathy is a helpful skill, especially when it comes to understanding and analysing the current vocational and personal situation of the mentee at the onset of mentoring. When bringing the mentoring partners together, special care is given to the vocational profile of the mentor meeting the requirements of the mentee. Furthermore, the mentee’s wishes with regard to sex, age, career experience and other aspects should be taken into consideration if possible. Wherever this is feasible, the mentor and mentee should have similar cultural backgrounds or migration experience. The idea is that greater acceptance and better mutual understanding – both from a cultural and linguistic point of view – may lead to synergies in the mentoring process.


The TANDEM NOW mentoring methodology showed the importance of a Role Model in the education and training phase of a young person’s life. To support the needs of migrant youth and young people from ethnic minorities, the Role Model concept was explored through the mentor/mentee mentoring relationships between an adult and a young person, in order to foster the personal and professional development of the mentee. Mentors were adults from migrant backgrounds that belonged to similar cultural backgrounds as the young mentees (aged 16-30 years). The matching process favoured shared language and culture and similar experiences to strengthen the mentoring relationships and the mentor’s ability to empathise and understand the experiences of the young mentee, and the mentee to have someone to identify with. These were essential factors for the relationships to succeed and to promote positive connections which offered young people a support network and a chance to meet new people. The mentors were able to offer the young mentees career guidance and support according to their knowledge and experiences. They became an important Role Model within the mentoring programme due to their success and career history. Importantly the common notion of a Role Model being a celebrity or in professions stereotypically associated with persons with migrant background and from ethnic minorities was challenged during the blended mentoring programme. The TANDEM NOW mentors came from a variety of professions and sectors which in turn helped the young mentees to become aware of different training and employment possibilities that they had not considered before. Mentors were able to provide insight and perspectives into a wide range of professional careers and training pathways. TANDEM NOW provided increased access to professional role models and as mentors they helped raise the aspirations of the migrant youth or young people from ethnic minorities and provide guidance in their career choices.


Needs analysis: it outlined the different cultural norms and values in each ethnic group providing a framework of what is happening in these specific communities, highlighting the challenges and problems of migrants and ethnic minorities.

TANDEM NOW – Curriculum for Mentors’ training. The Curriculum for TANDEM NOW training of Mentors consists of: Concept and structure of the training course & Required materials and recommended online tools tested within the “Blended-Mentoring-Package”.

Project Magazine. It contains information about the project TANDEM NOW; a mentoring programme which pairs young people from ethnic minorities or migrant backgrounds with a role model from their own community. The Magazine presents the TANDEM NOW project and the rationale for setting up such a project. The mentoring programme is outlined and explained in detail and then it highlights the successful outcomes of the project. The magazine tells you how you can set up a mentoring programme and learn from our experience piloting programmes across Europe.


The TANDEM NOW concept is based on two distinctive features which support the mentoring process in a special way:

  • mentor and mentee should have the same or a similar ethnic/ migration background
  • by means of Blended Mentoring different channels of communication are used Blended Mentoring, in fact, is the special and innovative feature in TANDEM NOW.

This approach encompasses personal meetings between the mentor and mentee but this traditional type of communication is supplemented by means of social media (Facebook, Google plus, etc.) so that the barriers of time and distance can be superseded, and continuous work becomes possible. The ratio between personal mentoring and mentoring supported by media depends on the physical distance between the pairs and their favoured communication channels.


  • Language barriers
  • Motivation of both parties (mentor-mentee)
  • Time to dedicate at the programme

Difficulties or constrains for its implementation

In the context of TANDEM NOW, we recommend more personal contacts in the initial phase of getting to know each other which can be replaced by or added to communication using social media at a later stage.
The motivation of the mentor is essential for achieving a fruitful success of the programme (not all our mentors were so motivated in supporting the mentees, they didn’t have enough time for them).

CRITERIA actors or stakeholder are using to assess them as a “good practice”

The particular advantages of the blended mentoring approach for the tandem are flexibility as regards time and independence in terms of space. At the same time, the big challenges are creating confidence, making sure that the commitment on both sides is upheld and making constructive use of social media.
For the mentees TANDEM NOW was a valuable experience as they got the opportunity to make a connection with someone who could understand their view and background while sharing their own personal and professional experience. The young people developed their skills and learned about different opportunities, career paths and resources available to them. For some it was also an opportunity to integrate into local communities. The mentors’ involvement gave them opportunity to give something back to their community, support young people to improve their situations, and to make an impact on a young person’s life. Furthermore, the mentors stated that they learned new skills while attending the mentor training and during the mentoring programme. These included communication, intercultural and IT skills, and a range of mentoring approaches. All mentors said they had a positive experience on both a personal and professional level. As a result of their participation in the project many of the mentors said it helped them to reflect on their own careers and motivate them in their professions.

Year and length (duration)


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