Gap Analysis in book-format

Target Groups of the Projects

The 25 years old daughter of an Austrian dentist who came from Salzburg to Munich 50 years ago and who now is studying international affairs at a private university in a Bavarian city is a migrant as well as the 60 years old refugee from Syria who left their home due to massacres and are now living in a refugee hostel in the same city.

A particular distinction has to be made between intra-EU migration and migration from outside the EU. Subject to some transitory restrictions on citizens of new Member States, EU citizens have the right to live and work in other EU Member States. EU citizens are not subject to limits on the numbers that may be admitted, and are exempt from restrictions as to duration of residence and access to the labour market that may be applied to third-country nationals (persons who are not citizens of an EU Member State).6

As programmes or funds are regularly using the term migrant to describe the target audience, and as projects often have to meet the requirements of programmes or funds, this term is widely used in describing the targeted audience of a project, although the term migrant is very weak in a descriptive meaning.7

The 18 projects under consideration answer to this precondition and cover people from all over the world, who left their homes for different reasons. Only a few projects specified the target group as refugees and unaccompanied minors. All other projects targeted diverse people in terms of country of origin, legal status, mother tongue, language capabilities, cultural origin, educational level, duration of stay and other items.

Regarding entering the labour market, specific barriers exist for refugees in addition to challenges other migrants face. Challenges may include loss of identity documentation and qualification certificates, non-acceptance of qualifications or educational attainment, trauma and uncertainty, anxiety over family separation, the long period of inactivity in the asylum system, and limited social networks.

Downward professional mobility and de-skilling is particularly hard to cope with for those refugees with
qualifications who may suffer downward social, as well as professional mobility.

Obstacles to get access to VET and jobs
The success of immigrants in EU VET systems is crucial to the future European labour markets as it is also paramount for maintaining social equality and cohesion in societies. 8 However, there are various obstacles and/or discriminating processes existing on the labour markets which are an obstacle for the different target groups to enter the labour market and find a suitable job. “Immigrants are disadvantaged in most education systems across the EU. Poor education results often lead to fewer, less quality jobs.” 9 Immigrants often face obstacles like low level of knowledge of the language of the host country at arrival, parental human capital not exploitable in terms of suitable jobs, educational attainment in the country of origin, which may not match the requirements in the host country and discrimination by school peers, teachers and recruiters.

Discrimination and lack of intercultural knowledge and awareness among employers lead to a relative disadvantage for migrants compared with their native counterparts in the recruitment process. Even when explicit discrimination against migrants is not an issue, implicit stereotypes and intercultural barriers may bias the recruitment process and contribute to less positive hiring outcomes for migrants as compared to natives with the same levels of qualifications and competences and, thus, to underutilization of migrants’ skills. This risk seems to be higher when the employer is a small or medium-sized enterprise. Due to their resource restrictions and limited experience, SMEs in particular seem to lack the capacity – both in terms of dedicated counselling and training – to deal with cultural diversity issues in the recruitment process.

While in all countries the school system produces winners and losers, this selection is ubiquitous in Germany; it does not only relate exclusively to migrants, but among migrants the selection has stronger effects than among non-migrants, it sustains over time and hardly can be compensated: 10

  • There exists a high number of migrants in secondary modern schools and special schools (which are located at the very bottom in terms of quality of school exam).
  • Migrants statistically have worse school leave exams than non-migrants.
  • There are high numbers of migrant parents with low or no educational status.
  • There is a high number of migrants with low or no IVET-exam.
  • A high number of migrants face huge problems in the transition into IVET and job-market.
  • These problems remain persistent, even when school exams are equivalent to non-migrants.
  • Disadvantages are particularly validated for people with Turkish and Arabic origins.
  • Better school leave exams do not automatically improve access to IVET (as it usually is the case).
  • Many of the young migrants lack a specific support from their parents regarding the transition from school to work and training. Reason for this is not missing willingness, but missing information among parents.

The gap in education outcomes between natives and immigrants is substantial. However, natives face similar difficulties and show similar education outcomes as immigrant children. This finding points at more general inequalities in the education system rather than at an immigrant-specific problem. Nevertheless, the (on average) more disadvantaged family education background of immigrant children results in typically lower education outcomes. 11
These obstacles and elements of discrimination are valid in the partnering countries, although the picture in the specific countries represented in this project may be different due to national immigration policies, immigration flows, labour market systems and economic prosperity. Nevertheless, in the eighteen projects from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK a similar picture is presented regarding the labour market hurdles for immigrants:

  • Low level of migrants’ knowledge of the language
  • Qualifications may be missing or not transferrable.
  • Non transferrable professional experiences.
  • Continuous vocational training may be insufficient or not validated.
  • Understanding of the job market procedures and insight into labour market conditions may be limited.
  • People might have difficulties to adjust to the host country’s working culture.
  • Prevailing traditional recruiting processes (in the health-care sector in Germany) that are not adequate to immigrants and refugees 12, as they stick to checking knowledge items from school exams, but not the suitability and fitness of the people to meet the requirements of the work placement.
  • Undervaluing the skills of individuals (for example a qualified doctor being encouraged to accept a job as a cleaner at the hospital).
  • Downward professional mobility (de-qualification) of asylum seekers or asylum beneficiaries and thus downsizing the formerly acquired qualifications in the home countries, which often has not been officially recognized.
  • Structural and institutional discrimination 13 due to status as immigrant, refugee or unaccompanied minor or due to religious beliefs of people.
  • Predominating hierarchies.
  • Stereotypes in society (a project from England mentions the applicant´s name leading to decliningopportunities to get jobs).

These results fit to statistical findings 14 from researches in Europe or in single European countries like

  • Misuse of skills and qualifications of highly qualified migrants not finding adequate jobs is amplified by the large number of highly qualified migrants working in jobs well below their educational qualification. 15
  • The situation of second-generation migrants while being more positive than that of first-generation
  • migrants, still shows disadvantages compared to the situation of persons with a native background.
  • Young migrants are generally at greater risk of leaving the education and training system without having obtained an upper secondary qualification.
  • Even if access to the labour market is granted, difficulties arising from lacking or insufficient formal
  • qualifications often result in poor labour force participation rate. This is also the reason why migrants
  • are accounted for working more frequently in job positions below their qualification level than nonmigrant counterparts. 16