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‘Delving into everyday experiences of a range of migrants and hearing their own voices, this chapter discusses how newcomers exercise agency to seize opportunities offered by their country of settlement and mitigate the effect of the turbulent social, political and economic circumstances they often meet with.

To understand migrants’ capabilities and agency, we not only look at their lives over the last five years but also explore their more distant memories long before their migration. Analysis of their past experiences enables our better understanding of their motivation for emigration, of barriers and opportunities they were facing and of their individual capacity for change and resistance. Looking back into their past also enables us to explore in-depth the reciprocal relationship between their agency and the sociocultural context.

The analytical accent is specifically placed on the turning points and emerging epiphanies of migrants’ lives as well as on issues of intersectionality which heavily determine migration outcomes. We mostly emphasise the narrative thematic analysis (composite biographies) and its combination with data from other levels of inquiry, or cross-level analysis.

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This chapter discusses the role of civil society organisations (CSOs) in the labour market integration of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers (MRAs) in the selected countries addressed by the book. It examines the positions of CSOs and their perception by newcomers. Our findings suggest that CSOs can work as important actors enhancing not only integration into the labour market but also integration through the labour market. However, such a capacity is unevenly spatially distributed, Moreover, CSOs either individually or collectively, frequently raise the problematic situation of illegal practices on the part of employers, exploitation, human trafficking or underpaid wages. Furthermore, CSOs help to mitigate and, often together with MRAs, struggle against the hostile context of a widespread atmosphere of xenophobia. Although we conclude the CSOs primarily work as enablers of the MRAs’ integration in the labour market, our critical analysis also suggests that CSOs can in some nuanced ways hinder the labour market integration. Last but not least, we focus our attention on the enablers facilitating or barriers hindering the migration-related initiatives of CSOs and therefore on the process indirectly influencing MRAs’ labour market integration.

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The introductory chapter discusses key theoretical concepts upon which the book develops, such as the meaning of integration and inclusion, broadly understood but also with reference to the labour market and to the wider social context. Hence it reflects on how different labour outcomes affect empowerment and participation as key aspects of newcomers’ integration. It also introduces the reader to the multilevel (local–national–European) and multidimensional (micro–meso–macro) framework of the study underpinning the book, as well as to its large quantitative and qualitative empirical basis. The introduction also discusses ethical aspects which pertain to research with vulnerable individuals. Finally, the layout of the book is presented and explained.

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This chapter assesses how far legal frameworks of migration and asylum work as enablers or obstructers of non-EU migrants, refugees and asylum seekers’ integration in European labour markets across the seven countries studied in the book. It does so by gathering and critically analysing information on the political, legal and institutional context of migration governance for each country, and by comparatively discussing national situations. When legal issues are at stake, newcomers’ integration heavily depends on the country they settle in and from the legal status that is recognised to them. In fact, entry and settlement in European countries is subject to strict limitations to non-EU nationals, but such limitations take different shades according to a given European country and a given migrant status.

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Work Integration in Comparative Perspective

EPDF and EPUB available Open Access under CC-BY-NC-ND licence.

The motivations of migrants for travelling to Europe vary, and the quality of the processes involved in their settlement and contribution to social and economic development are inextricably linked to their prospects of finding and sustaining good-quality work.

This book explores the labour market integration of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers across seven European countries: the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Italy, Switzerland and the UK. Using empirical data from the Horizon2020 SIRIUS Project, it investigates how legal, political, social and personal circumstances combine to determine the work trajectory for migrants who choose Europe as their home.

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This chapter presents and discusses recommendations for an optimal policy mix to inform the design of policies and programmes that will provide post-2014 migrants, including refugees and asylum seekers, with greater protection through decent work in the years to come. The chapter will revisit the book’s underpinning theoretical framework (presented in the introductory chapter) to explain the role of concrete measures to make efficient use of the skills of migrants, the channels through which these affect the labour market integration of (resettled) refugees and asylum seekers, as well as the combination and sequence of measures leading to the best outcome for a given group of beneficiaries (considering skill levels, gender, marital status and age), taking into consideration issues of institutional specificity and transferability to diverse country and institutional contexts. Lastly, the chapter will present recommendations for bilateral or multi-country cooperation programmes among countries of origin, transit and destination, focusing on the labour market integration of post-2014 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers and addressing the needs of both beneficiaries and host communities.

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This chapter discusses the role that social partners and social dialogue can play by enabling or not the integration of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the European labour market. Social partners play a key role in labour market dynamics as they contribute towards determining the policy and legal frameworks that shape labour markets, but also the social, political and economic trends in which labour markets are embedded. Therefore, an examination of social partners’ understanding of the newcomers’ capacities and their appreciation of opportunities and challenges to be addressed is unavoidable in any research willing to understand how to facilitate unlocking the employment potential of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. This chapter presents findings from a four-month-long process of fieldwork of interviews with social partners (gathering overall 123 interviews) complemented by an experts’ survey which managed to collect responses from 293 additional social partners’ representatives across the seven countries (Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Finland, Italy, Switzerland and the UK).

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This chapter discusses migrant labour market integration policies and services in the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Finland, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, and thus we present a wide variety of different national contexts. In addition, it also details EU-specific policies and programmes.

The empirical work underpinning this chapter emanates from two main research tasks: policy discourse analysis; and assessment of existing policies and their outcomes. A policy discourse analysis was conducted across the selected countries to identify and analyse how issues of labour market integration are discussed by policymakers and policy actors. By analysing the findings of the discourse analysis together with the assessment of policies, which forms the second part of chapter, the consistency between policy rhetoric and policy goals is evaluated. The second part of the chapter consists of a policy assessment in which the barriers to labour market integration and existing policies to remedy them are identified, categorised and evaluated. This was performed using a meta-analysis of the existing national literatures, and interviews with policy experts, implementers and beneficiaries of labour market integration policies.

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The chapter investigates labour shortages, skills needs and mismatches by examining skills and qualifications and their use in the labour market so as to assess the position of post-2014 migrants, refugees, asylum seekers in the workforce and identify barriers and enablers for their labour market integration.

The chapter also explores the position of post-2014 migrants, refugees, asylum seekers in the workforce for seven countries (Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Finland, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) to build a comprehensive assessment of labour market barriers and enablers. The chapter presents cross-national comparative research at two levels. At the first level, it focuses on the characteristics (skills and qualifications) of post-2014 migrants, refugees and asylum seekers in each country under investigation, in order to evaluate the integration progress and determine the drivers behind unemployment and inactivity. At the second level, the chapter focuses on specific features of each country, including: productive structure, employment composition by sector of economic activity, occupations and skills, labour flows, unemployment rates, level of skills as well as the overall macroeconomic situation.

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Chapter 7 draws attention to the modest pursuits and pleasures that sustain a liveable life in hardship but don’t necessarily conform to popular ideas of ‘good resilience’. It argues that research on lived experiences of welfare tends to be reactive in orientation, so that welfare users are more often positioned as adept responders than pursuers in accounts of getting by. The chapter builds on the work of Les Back and Eve Tuck to foreground examples of hope amid the strain of life on welfare without falling into overly rosy accounts of resilience or reinforcing the expectation that people face difficult situations with plucky resolve. While the understated examples of everyday care and accomplishment the chapter foregrounds may seem inconsequential, they are perhaps all the more relevant given the limited resources at the disposal of people struggling to get by.

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