In the first policy brief of the SIRIUS Project we present evidence and policy considerations about the ‘macro’ dimensions of integration of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers (MRAs) into European labour markets by scrutinizing the characteristics of post-2014 MRAs along with the economic drivers of the SIRIUS economies (the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, the United Kingdom and Switzerland) and their labour markets determinants.
Building upon the main findings of the WP1 Report the most relevant policy implications are:
1. Given the uneven economic and labour market landscapes across Europe, and in particular the very different unemployment rates, opportunities for the labour market integration of MRAs vary substantially among countries. Countries with a more vibrant economic situation (namely Denmark, Finland, Switzerland and the UK) should increase their potential for integration as they are more likely to provide employment than countries such as Greece and Italy, where the economy still struggles to cope with the legacy of the financial crisis and structural financial-economic deficits. Therefore, additional efforts are required from the EU and its Member States at better coordinating respective countries’ labour needs. A more informed and coordinated cross-European labour market capacity that takes into account the potential workforce contribution of MRAs could also tackle irregular work and manage secondary movements (intra-EU movement of MRAs).
2. Countries like Italy and Greece that have higher than average MRAs’ shares with lower educational attainment levels, and whose economy relies on ‘traditional’ sectors such as manufacture (Italy) and the primary sector (Greece) should focus their integration policies in the development of further opportunities of vocational education and training, as well as increasing language proficiency so that MRAs have better opportunities of integration in those sectors more likely to create jobs.
3. Countries like the UK, Switzerland, and Denmark, with higher than average MRAs’ shares with higher/tertiary educational attainment levels, and whose economy relies on services and knowledge-based and innovation-led sectors, should make the most out of their large shares of educated MRAs workforce by facilitating degrees and skills recognition.
4. There should be further policies specifically targeting MRAs women integration into the labour market, in particular in countries such as the Czech Republic, Greece and Italy where the gender gap is still large (and not only for MRAs, but also for native). Concerning women MRAs, such policies should encourage the recogniton of skills and education, while with regard to both MRAs and native women, these countries should improve their provision of child and elderly care services to ease women’s entry into the labour market. Further effort is also encouraged in the provision of secondary and higher education programmes devoted to women, as well as vocational education and training opportunities, given that our evidence suggests that education is the most important factor mitigating gender-based discrimination in the labour market (for both, MRAs and native).
5. Educational attainment is a key predictor of employability in all countries for both native and MRAs. Moreover, a highly educated workforce is a positive predictor of a country’s economic performance. Countries such as Greece and Italy with lower shares of highly educated workforces and a less tertiarised and innovation-based economy should make additional efforts to increase their innovation-driving policies, along with further efforts to increase their share of the workforce (both MRAs and native) possessing further or higher education levels.
6.The sectoral labour cost is not significantly related to the labour dynamics of those SIRIUS economies characterized by low unemployment, i.e. Czech Republic, Denmark, Switzerland and the UK. Therefore the integration of MRAs into these labour markets will likely not affect their overall sectoral wage structure. On the other hand, the fact that sectoral wages affect - in a statistically significant manner - the labour dynamics in Greece, where unemployment remains at a two-digit level, points to the need for the Greek authorities to avoid wage-led competition between native and migrants. Therefore, they should monitor and improve the regulation of employment in sectors more exposed to irregular occupation.
7. Because the educational attainment levels of MRAs play a key role in predicting their employment capacity, our analyses point to the need for the creation of a platform at Member States and the EU level that would enable MRAs to have their education, and eventually qualifications and skills, profiled and accredited in line with the EU regulatory framework. Such a platform could offer the opportunity for MRAs to receive an accreditation through examination processes that would take place either remotely (via MOOC) or in person in European universities or in specific accreditation institutions.
8.There should also be further opportunities for mutual learning among countries: for example, Denmark, Switzerland and the UK - which are the economies with the most heterogeneous sectoral labour forces in terms of nationality, are also the economies with the highest migration surplus (when migration inflows outnumber outflows) per 1,000 inhabitants. Therefore, best practices eventually emerging from these countries will be analysed and reported in future policy briefs to contribute offering a mutual learning opportunity.
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