E.g., 09/19/2014
E.g., 09/19/2014

Moving Up or Standing Still? Access to Middle-Skilled Work for Newly Arrived Migrants in the European Union

Reports
July 2014

Moving Up or Standing Still? Access to Middle-Skilled Work for Newly Arrived Migrants in the European Union

Over the past 15 years, migration in Europe has changed considerably. The economic boom in the early and mid-2000s and expanded mobility owing to European Union enlargement helped create new populations of migrants from both within and beyond the European Union. These recent migrants are more educated than earlier arrivals and many are highly skilled. Against the backdrop of the global economic crisis, which profoundly affected many migrant-receiving countries in Europe, governments are grappling with questions of how to ensure that immigrants are able to find employment and progress into better jobs over time.    

This overview report caps a series of six country case studies evaluating the employment outcomes for foreign-born workers in the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The study examines how easy it is for newcomers in the European Union to establish themselves in destination-country labor markets in the first ten years after arrival, and how well they are able to move out of unskilled work and into middle-skilled jobs. 

This report is part of a research project funded by the European Union and conducted in collaboration with the International Labour Office. The case studies in this phase of the project consider the influence of individual characteristics and broader economic conditions on the employment prospects of foreign-born workers. The second phase will evaluate the effectiveness of integration and workforce development policies in helping foreign-born workers overcome these barriers and move up into middle-skilled positions that pay a family-sustaining wage. The six case study countries are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

EU

This project is funded by the European Union

The first phase of the project examines the effect of economic conditions and individual characteristics of newcomers on labor market integration of immigrants in Europe. The data laid out in each case study for the first decade after arrival show that integration pathways and outcomes varied widely by country. Immigrants found work relatively quickly in some countries, while employment rates started low and improved over time in other countries. However, in all case study countries, immigrants were overrepresented in the lowest-skilled jobs, and their systematic advancement into middle- or high-skilled work over time was limited. Education did not fully account for this overrepresentation, and in some countries, immigrants had similar or higher levels than the native born while being more likely to work in low-skilled jobs. 

This report also previews the second phase of the project, which will tackle the question of how integration and employment policies can help newly arrived immigrants not only enter employment, but also become upwardly mobile and move into higher-skilled work with time. 

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Immigration During the 2000s

III. The Employment Pathways of Foreign-Born Workers: A Complex Picture

IV. Drivers of Employment and Occupational Status

A. Individual Characteristics that Shape Integration Outcomes

B. Economic and Labor Market Conditions

V. Conclusion: Considering Policy Implications