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“Cultural Unconscious Bias in the workplace” CUB@work project has been approved by the National Agency of Germany.

The project is focusing on further strengthening key competences of management and recruitment staff of SMEs. The project will develop CUB@work system supporting the users in strengthening their vocational competencies with particular focus on cultural unconscious bias. Through using the system, they will learn how to understand unconscious bias, how to reflect on one’s own unconscious bias as well as how to cope with it and manage it in the recruitment process as well as in the workplace. Among others, the project will deliver the course including the topic of unconscious bias, the assessment tool allowing to assess the competences and customized learning path allowing for increasing knowledge and skills only in deficiency areas. Having well trained management and recruitment staff aware about unconscious bias and able to deal with it, SMEs will be able to participate more successfully in the War for Talents to recruit suitable personnel and having appropriate work force, support and improve own operations and effectiveness. The CUB@work system will be a suitable tool for both initial and continuing VET.

Horizontally, the project will contribute to the social inclusion as it will promote the development of intercultural competences, by providing tools allowing for understanding unconscious bias, reflecting on it and managing it in the recruitment process as well as in the workplace. Undoubtedly, such bias is present in the very inner core of one’s personality, and the key action is not to fight it, but to recognize its presence and ability to take decisions and actions that are not influenced by the hidden perceptions. It is extremely crucial for all organizations and institutions that, directed by the unconscious bias, can go wrong with staff recruitment and day-to-day HR management in general. Due to unconscious perceptions, skilled and suitable potential candidates are filtered out in the selection process. Unconscious preconceptions and stereotyping of managers and co-workers toward migrants in the workforce make integration of migrant workforce very difficult, with adverse consequences for companies, for the workforce as well as for the broader society as a whole. Through innovative approach, CUB@work system, the project will promote non-discrimination and social inclusion at the workplace, increase cross-functional intercultural sensitivity, enabling and increasing opportunities for social inclusion and the integration for diversified learners.

The project also answers the above chosen Horizontal priority of the need of open and innovative practices in digital era as it develops digital learning material and tools and supports effective use of digital technologies in training of management and recruitments staff of SMEs.

The proposal is based on literature review of statistical and results of research done at national and EU levels and partners own experiences.
Studies show that there is an urgent need for qualified personnel in Europe: As shown, for ex. in the 2 cited studies ‘How mobile is tech talent? by Centre for European Policy Studies, 2016 and McKinsey study, 2012 called World at Work the need for young talented people entering the labour market is very high. This study reached conclusion: employers in Europe and N. America will require 16 to 18 million more college-educated workers in 2020 than are going to be available. McKinsey consulting coined the term ‘War for Talent’ to describe this phenomenon. In many EU countries, this is a particular problem for SMEs looking to hire and keep personnel, as SMEs cannot compete with corporations when it comes to salaries and other incentives. SMEs may not be able to fill 1 in 10 roles they need, much less fill them with top talent.

At the same time, Europe experiences unprecedented high levels of migration, many of whom are well qualified. In Eurostat report ‘Migrant integration’ from 2017 the result was concluded concerning migrants in Europe: the EU-born population recorded the highest share of graduates (36.7 %). This proportion was 4 pp higher than for the native-born population and 5 pp higher than for non-EU-born population. These statistics reflect potential benefits of migration of EU Citizens where more extensive recruitment of young people with migrant backgrounds or young refugees could help SMEs in finding appropriate employees. Especially that motivation to gain access to the labour market among them remains exceptionally high: e.g. 93,3% of the population in Germany with a migrant background retain that a fix workplace is an important factor for integration in the accepting country.

In contrast with these facts however, 7 out of 10 (71%) of DE companies with trainee programmes don’t employ trainees with migration background. This figure is higher for SMEs with less than 50 employees. Those over 50 show higher rates of willingness to employ trainees with migrant backgr. but still 46%. (SVR-FB_Diskriminierung-am-Ausbildungsmarkt, p. 31). This situation indicates a strong tendency by SME towards risk avoidance: The risk is that financial consequences for SME of the trainee breaking off the apprenticeship ahead of time. Research indicates that due to the nature and size, SME give trainees and new employees more responsible tasks relatively early. This requires the trainee to fit in the company’s structure easily and smoothly (SVR-FB, p. 30). In order to avoid these potential negative consequences, decision-makers in SMEs are guided by the unconscious human preference for people like themselves based on the unconscious psychological assumption ‘people who are like each other, like each other’, which seems generally true and in so doing demonstrate an unconscious bias to trainees and employees who are from their own culture. Consequently, for the sake of financial security and social integration in the staff, when it comes to choosing the right trainees and employees, these unconscious decisions, however, lead to the exclusion of many talents only because of the cultural background.

Studies show which unconscious bias assumptions and stereotypes lead to the exclusion from the labour market: trainees with a migrant background are assumed to be less intelligent, less motivated and behaving less politely (SVR-FB, p. 30). Statistics prove that already a foreign surname can lead to unconscious unequal treatment: To receive an invitation to an interview, a candidate with a German name has to write an average of 5 applications, whereas a competitor with a Turkish name has to write 7 (SVR-FB, p. 4). Similar situation exists in partner countries (e.g. in PL, research among employers, 2018 shows bias towards immigrants as one of 5 main reasons of not employing them). Existence of unconscious bias is the fact, there is a need to recognize it and to cope with it. The project’s main aim is to develop competences of SMEs managers and recruitment staff in understanding, recognizing, reflecting on and managing the unconscious bias and validating those competences in order to enable SMEs to recruit suitable personnel. The main objective will be achieved through developing the vocational education tool – CUB@work system.

Target groups:
– Management and recruitment staff of SME
– VET trainers and public officials responsible for VET policy

Project should be realised transnationally because the problem of unconscious bias is transnational in nature and working on its solution together with partners from different countries assures tackling it from various perspectives and with different experiences.

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