Empowering Migrants for Employment EME



Best practices

Tree and apples – where do I come from and what are my skills and knowledge?

#tool #empowerment #skillsrecognition #peergroup

The good practice in a nutshell

The ‘tree and apples’ exercise has two main steps:

Step 1: The participants draw the tree of their life path: where are the roots, what are the tree trunk and the boughs like, what have the participants learned and done in their life and where, and in which direction do they think they will grow in the future? The participants can write on the tree and also add keywords, dates, and places.

Step 2: The participants can complete their own tree with apple-shaped cards. Written on the apples are various positive attributes a person may have as an employee. Examples are ‘I am social’, ‘I am flexible’, and ‘I am a good team player’. The participants pick the apples that describe them the best.

Developer or user

Finnish Catch Up With Work project in 2017-2019

Target group

Long-term unemployed immigrants

Why it is needed

The exercise can be used at the beginning of the group-building process, for getting an idea about the (professional) life path of the participants and also about their family background.

In addition, it can be useful to refer back to this exercise when preparing job applications and practising pitching and job interviews with the group members. 


The method requires:

  • A4 paper and pencils
  • pre-made apple cards presenting various strengths (you can have some blank cards also, in case the participants want to write their own ideas)

Expected outcomes

  • The tutors and the group members get an overview of the (professional) life path and the background of the participants.
  • You can learn about the existing competencies and interests of the participant and talk about the possibilities for developing one’s strengths.
  • The exercise helps the participants to build a positive self-image.
  • The picture of the tree and the apples offers a memorable tool that helps the participants give an overview of their professional background and to talk about it when searching for work.
  • The apples offer an opportunity to talk about work-life situations in which we need particular strengths.
  • The exercise can also aid in recognising hidden potential of the participants.

‘Do’s and ‘don’t’s

  • You should schedule enough time for the discussion about the stories behind the trees.
  • The apples can also be used later, as an evaluation tool for the group in cases of peer evaluation.


This tool can be used in every country, either in individual-level or in group guidance.