GENEVA (ILO News) - Immigrant workers and their families face major hurdles in obtaining jobs according to research published by the International Labour Office (ILO), which finds "significant and disturbing levels of discrimination in access to employment" in Western Europe and other parts of the industrialized world.
Studies conducted in a number of Western European countries * found that at least one-third of all advertised vacancies were effectively closed to applicants from ethnic minority groups as a result of discriminatory hiring practices. According to the report, "overall discrimination rates of up to 35% were not uncommon," meaning that researchers found that at least one in every three job applications posed by migrant/ethnic minority candidates met with discrimination.
The discrimination was strongest at the outset of the hiring process, with large numbers of "test"applicants (usually a young, male with a foreign sounding name) being denied the possibility of even presenting credentials to prospective employers. The second stage of the application process, in which candidates presented their credentials and tried to obtain a job interview, yielded less evidence of discrimination. The third stage, an actual interview, yielded less still. However, blatant evidence of discrimination occurred throughout the hiring process and in many cases more than half the minority candidates never got beyond the first stage.
The meeting is in ILO Conference Room IX and plenary sessions are open to journalists.
Discrimination, the ILO notes, is particularly high in service sectors, notably in branches where contacts with clients is an essential element of the services provided. It calls this trend "extremely worrying" since services are precisely the area where job growth is strongest. As migrant and minority workers tend to be highly concentrated in traditional manufacturing sectors where industrial downsizing is most rampant, they risk suffering from both reduced job prospects and limited mobility.
In most countries, migrants and their descendants suffer from disproportionately higher unemployment rates than nationals. While such factors as insufficient language skills or training deficiencies might explain higher unemployment levels for first generation migrants, discrimination in access to employment is likely to be an important factor for subsequent generations.
The meeting will be opened by Ms. Ida Castro of the US' Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Deputy UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan. Other speakers at the meeting include national business leaders and trade union officials from France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and other countries.
* Migrant discrimination in the labour market: A comparative study of four European countries, ILO, Geneva.