ZOOM ON: Marilisa Fantacci, Executive Director of Action Emploi Réfugiés in France

The association Action Emploi Réfugiés (AERé) of Groupe SOS promotes the integration of refugees in the French labor market, by supporting refugees, but also companies. Today, let’s meet Marilisa Fantacci, who discusses the association’s missions and the challenges of integrating refugees in France. 

Marilisa; can you describe AERé’s missions?  

Since 2016, we have been accompanying hundreds of refugees every year to enable them to rebuild their lives and regain self-sufficiency through access to employment 

We’ve operated two flagship programs:  

  • The “Socle” Program: personalized support with a job placement integration officer over a period of 3 to 12 months, regardless of the level of qualification, the language, and the professional project.  
  • The “AVEC” Program (acceleration to employment and career program): 6 to 9 months of support and pre-qualifying or qualifying training mainly in shortage occupations or strong recruitment opportunities sectors, co-constructed with companies and technical training organizations.

How do you help refugees find a place in the job market?  

There are many obstacles in the French labor market. Many of the people we support have had diplomas and are experienced professionals in their specific job sector… Refugees are as interested in low-skilled jobs as they are in higher-skilled jobs. But the norms of the French work life are different from what they’ve known: how to apply online, how to pass an interview, what are the duties and rights of an employee, what is the purpose of an employment contract, what are the behaviors to adopt in a company… What may seem natural to someone who grew up in France is not at all natural to someone who has just arrived on the territory.   

Employers must also change. Some want to hire but are locked into ways of recruiting that are unsuitable for people looking for work, like the refugees we support. This is why we directly support companies in their human resources policy, by setting up, for example, an inclusive recruitments process, sourcing according to the criteria of each position, collective information meetings and specific recruitment sessions for refugees, and support for companies before and after recruitment, information and awareness-raising sessions related to the rights of refugees and their integration into the company…

More generally, what are the obstacles to reception and integration in France today?  

In France, the process of obtaining refugee status is very long and a real obstacle course because the French administrative system is so complex. This complexity manifests itself in all fields of action: accommodation, work, national education, health, and access to rights…For instance, asylum seekers during the procedure do not have French lessons, which is essential to find à job.  What is cruelly lacking, in my opinion, is the linearity and continuity of the pathways, a framed coordination among all actors, or a one-stop shop to manage all the needs of these people. 


“I have already benefited from 8 workshops, and individual coaching with AERé. I discovered sewing after I arrived in France, and since then I have wanted to work in this field. But it’s not easy. AERé welcomed me with kindness. They gave me a lot of courage, advice, and a concrete path, notably with a training course.” Sosina, an Ethiopian refugee, in France since 2016 



Everyone at Groupe SOS believes in ‘social fertility’, meaning that each person, including refugees, has something to offer to our society. Social exclusion and insecurity can be greatly reduced by constantly being on the lookout for innovative solutions and by putting them into action. In this context, we believe employment is a powerful lever for inclusion. This is why our teams ensure each person receives an individual follow-up, taking into account their career paths, challenges, and above all their unique human and professional qualities.


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