Research Project

Growth, Equal Opportunities, Migration and Markets

Principal Investigator
Dr Neli Demireva
Gemm Project

Discrimination is still very real in Europe when it comes to landing a job.

The EU-funded GEMM project looked into its main patterns to identify potential countermeasures.

GEMM project, led by Dr. Neli Demireva at Essex University, addressed the challenges and barriers that European countries face in managing the mobility of persons to realize competitiveness and growth.

Learn more about this research project


The 'migration crisis' is easily one of the biggest storms the EU has had to weather over the past decade. It has brought to light the limits of cooperation between Member States, lifted the veil on the horrors faced by migrants seeking refuge, and become fertile ground for a divisive ‘us vs them’ rhetoric across Europe. But there is another side effect of this crisis. While some 80 million workers in Europe lack the proper qualification for the job they have been hired to do, discrimination towards migrants, even highly skilled ones, is depriving the labour market of a significant resource and solutions to a rapidly ageing society and skills shortages. “Discrimination is not only problematic in terms of fairness, but it also limits a society’s capacity to employ and attract human resources most effectively. It is a major barrier to growth,” explains Neli Demireva, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Essex and coordinator of the GEMM project.

The GEMM project studied this barrier between 2015 and 2018. It collected field experiment data, analysed existing survey data and built its own understanding of real-life motivations behind migration decisions. Its objective: methodically fact-checking some of the most repeated myths around migrants’ role in society and how these impact the labour market.

Recommendations to tackle inequality

To bridge these gaps, the GEMM consortium issued a list of recommendations. These include, for instance, a focus on production-relevant information from migrants, and institutional support for the translation of educational credentials into the local language (degree certificates for example) on the part of the receiving society. “Policy-makers need to tackle inequality if they want growth and innovation. More resources should be devoted to facilitating the recognition of credentials and supporting individuals in their labour market decisions,” Dr. Demireva concludes. More information on these recommendations can be found in the GEMM Policy brief in Focus