The Labour Market Integration of New Immigrants in Europe: Analysis and Policy Evaluation

Aiming Higher: Policies to get Immigrants into Middle-Skilled Work in Europe

Against the backdrop of persistent economic distress and aging populations, European countries can ill afford to squander the potential of any of their residents. But too often, newly arrived immigrants struggle to gain a secure foothold in the labour market. Many experience protracted periods of inactivity, unemployment, or long tenures in low-skilled work. Skilled immigrants, meanwhile, often experience "brain waste" and are unable to put their foreign qualifications to good use.

Despite some promising innovations, there is clearly no quick fix to the problem of immigrants stuck in low-skilled jobs or unemployment. The dearth of evaluations has also hindered progress, suggesting a need for sophisticated, long-term monitoring of programs that are both promising and innovative. In the meantime, a road map for reform has several components. These include improving the incentives of employment agencies to serve the needs of migrants - a task that may include further training and specialization to allow providers to provide both short- and long-term career advice. Strategies to support the careers of newcomers already in work might include funding partnerships between employers and training institutions, providing technical assistance to employers willing to facilitate language instruction, and supporting work experience programs and apprenticeships. For out-of-office work learners, sequential programs could be replaced by courses that require a minimal time commitment, perhaps by combining vocational competences, language, literacy, and digital skills. Finally, an important piece of the labour market integration puzzle is improving the cohesion of policies themselves, through the promotion of common goals, mutual accountability for integration outcomes, and information sharing.