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MPI Launches Research Project Examining the Labor Market Trajectories and Integration of New Immigrants in Europe

Press Release
Thursday, March 13, 2014

MPI Launches Research Project Examining the Labor Market Trajectories and Integration of New Immigrants in Europe

WASHINGTON — The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) today launched the first in a series of case studies evaluating the labor market trajectories of new immigrants in Europe and their ability to ascend into middle-skilled jobs, examining the incorporation of foreign-born workers in the Czech Republic.

The research project, conducted with funding from the European Union and in collaboration with the International Labour Office (ILO), is comprised of two phases. The first evaluates the conditions under which new immigrants can find jobs and progress out of unskilled work in the first decade after their arrival. The second phase will analyze the integration and workforce development, training and employment policies and programs that can best support new arrivals' access to middle-skilled jobs. The six case study countries are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In the first country case study, released today, A Tumultuous Decade: Employment Outcomes of Immigrants in the Czech Republic, economist Daniel Münich examines the immigrant workforce in the Czech labor market—a workforce that remains smaller than most western European countries but has more than doubled since 2000.

The majority of migrants in the Czech labor force come from former communist countries, notably Ukraine and Russia—as well as Vietnam—alongside smaller numbers from new European Union (EU) Member States. Immigration from post-communist countries has brought some notable challenges in a country with few dedicated immigrant integration policies. On average, these migrants have been able to find work relatively easily, with employment rates roughly similar to those of native-born Czechs. But the new immigrants are much more likely to be working in the least skilled jobs: 14 percent were in 2011-12, compared to just 5 percent of Czech nationals. This group of immigrant workers is also almost twice as likely to have low levels of education.

The report traces the significant changes to the Czech labor market and to the profile of migrants arriving post-2000, not least because of significant institutional and policy changes resulting from EU accession, as well as the arrival of the economic crisis.

Most legal migrants to the European Union are selected on the basis of family ties or the need for humanitarian protection—not for their skills; others have gained legal status through various forms of regularization. Most lack tertiary qualifications. As a result, access to middle-skilled jobs is a central goal of integration policy: putting immigrants on a pathway towards well-paying jobs that do not require high-level academic qualifications but that reward on-the-job experience and/or vocational training.

The first few years after arrival are particularly important to immigrants' long-term prospects. Failure to enter the labor market early, in occupations consistent with their skills and in sectors that offer upward job mobility, could have persisting consequences throughout workers' careers. “Immigrants new to Europe often face protracted periods of unemployment or inactivity followed by difficulty progressing into family-sustaining, stable jobs," said MPI President Demetrios G. Papademetriou. "As a result, investments that support timely labor market entry and place immigrants on a path toward upward occupational mobility bring long-term benefits."

"Limited language proficiency, unfamiliarity with local labor market conditions and limited contacts with potential employers, along with the difficulty in gaining recognition of professional and educational qualifications earned abroad, are among the complex set of barriers that many newly arrived immigrants confront," said MPI CEO and Director of Studies Michael Fix.

The next country case study, focusing on Spain, will be published in the coming days.

Read the Czech report at: http://migrationpolicy.org/research/tumultuous-decade-employment-outcomes-immigrants-czech-republic.

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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at the local, national and international levels.