In the third policy brief, we take a closer look at labour market integration policies for MRAs in the seven SIRIUS countries. Through the analysis of available MLI (Migrant Labour-market Integration) programmes and a discourse analysis, we have the following policy recommendations:
1. Where MLI programmes are under-resourced, they should receive an increased level of funding. There is a consensus among implementers, beneficiaries and most policymakers, that MLI programmes result in improved labour market outcomes for MRAs. This is also substantiated in the research. In some countries, particularly the UK, Italy, Greece and the Czech Republic, the public resources devoted to these programmes is minimal. EU funding has an important role where there are few public resources and increasing this funding might help to circumvent or overcome the reluctance of anti-migration governments to provide these services.
2. In general, the eligibility of specific migrant groups to participate in MLI programmes should be expanded. The eligibility varies from country to country, as do the availability of specific services. In some countries, such as the Czech Republic and Denmark programmes are mainly offered to newly arrived refugees, while in others such as in Finland and in Greece they are offered to all job-seeking migrants. In the UK, programmes are only offered to resettled refugees, which have been chosen in collaboration with the UN.
3. There is a discussion in Finland, Denmark and Switzerland about reducing the duration of the integration programmes; there is not a clear consensus on whether this will produce better outcomes. In particular, language learning is a part of these programmes highly valued by migrants. However, language learning takes a long time, and there are active policy discussions in many places about pushing migrants to go to work quickly before their language skills are well developed. In countries with well-structured integration training programmes, there is a push to shorten these and push migrants and refugees into jobs as quickly as possible. This may be at the cost of pushing well-qualified migrants and refugees into unqualified positions. Denmark’s relatively rigid “job first” is poorly considered. It also highlights the problem, also seen in Finland, of caseworkers not giving due consideration the qualifications and aspirations of migrants and refugees in recommending placements.
4. Individualized integration plans are considered effective, and these may offer a better solution than rigidly designed programs, taking into account the needs of some MRAs for longer integration plans, and others for shorter ones. These, however, assume a capable public service bureaucracy with enough case workers to handle the workload.
5. Recognition of prior home country education and experience, both in terms of formal recognition of certificates and employer recognition in recruiting should improve. Visible in all the SIRIUS countries, was a perceived need by migrants to start their education from the beginning again, because of a devaluing of foreign qualifications. More should be done to convert foreign qualifications into domestic equivalents, and to promote to employers the value of these qualifications. Programs at education institutions designed to bring foreign qualifications up to local standards should be considered. Standardized EU policies such as EQF for certificate recognition should also be considered for third-country nationals.
6. Coercive elements to ensure compliance with integration plans do not seem to be a problem, but neither are they useful. The MRAs interviewed in this project tended to value MLI programmes, and did not require the threat of benefit cuts, or other coercion to participate. On the other hand, there was no evidence the existence of these coercive elements is a problem.
You can read our policy brief in full in our publications section.