13 March 2017: GEMM First Roundtable Event: Understanding Labour Market Integration

 The GEMM “Growth, Equal Opportunities, Migration and Markets” project delivers an assessment of labour market inequalities of migrants and minorities in Europe. We especially focus on highly skilled migrants to Europe, who do not always find jobs in which their skills are used most effectively.

In this Roundtable, we focus on results from the first period of the project, with a special focus on the UK in comparison with Europe. We discuss the geographical composition of migrant groups, types of migrants depending on migrant motivation: economic migrants arriving with and without pre-negotiated contract, family migrants and refugees. The data presented will cover large surveys as well as preliminary results from the project’s own comparative field experiment.

Some results in focus: we find that non-economic migrants and especially those fleeing persecution face very large gaps in terms of employment and job quality compared to natives and other migrants. Over time, they catch up which is partly due to a higher probability of improving language skills, taking up host-country nationality or taking up more education. Our papers in preparation show the importance of individual human capital in achieving better-quality employment, but also the large role played by the opportunities within the labour market and the extent to which migrants are able to find good jobs. When it comes to occupational mobility between the first and present job, the acquisition of country-specific human capital, proxied by age at arrival, years since migration and the acquisition/recognition of educational credentials, is found to be associated with higher chances of upward mobility in European countries. Importantly, newly arrived immigrants are those who suffer the most from the limited availability of flexible forms of employment. In The UK, we do not find that white British respondents living in areas of high deprivation and diversity experience lower levels of economic activity or bad jobs. Quite the contrary, they appear to benefit in economic sense in such scenarios. Deprivation rather than minority embeddedness stands out as the factor that serves to compound both majority and minority disadvantage.