Integrating Refugees into Host Country Labor Markets: Challenges and Policy Options
As countries in Europe and beyond have faced a large influx of refugees and other migrants, the emergency response took immediate precedence over social and integration services. Yet without sufficient support and commitment to integrate newcomers into the host society and get them on a path to economic self-sufficiency, the ramifications of the crisis could persist for decades.
Helping new arrivals find jobs commensurate with their skills and experience—and with the potential for upward progression—can have positive effects on other indicators of integration, such as personal well-being and social cohesion. The case for up-front investments in labor market integration policies is especially compelling in countries facing demographic decline and skills shortages.
This report provides an overview of the barriers to the successful labor market integration of refugees and asylum seekers across all skills levels, and analyzes the targeted support initiatives and structural policy levers available to overcome them. Among the policies that can support such integration: early skills assessment and training, recognition of foreign academic and professional credentials, and employer engagement.
The report encourages policymakers to start integration initiatives early, thoroughly evaluate integration programs, and clearly communicate integration prospects and expected returns on investments.
II. How Have Refugees Fared in Host Country Labor Markets?
III. The Specific Challenges Faced by Refugees and Asylum Seekers
A. Interrupted Trajectories and Difficulties Transferring Human Capital
B. Multiple Disadvantages and the Missing Link between Reception and Labor Market Integration
C. Legal Restrictions, Service Limitations, and Uncertain Status
IV. Policies to Support the Labor Market Integration of Refugees
A. Early Skills Assessment, Orientation, and Customized Training
B. Tailored Support for the Recognition of Foreign Qualifications
C. Bridging Gaps through Flexible Education and Vocational Training
D. Alternative Paths for Refugees Facing Greater Barriers to Employment
E. Employment Matching