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03 October 2016

From Refugees to Workers. Mapping Labour-Market Integration Support Measures for Asylum Seekers and Refugees in EU Member States

This study, conducted by the Migration Policy Centre, in cooperation with the Bertelsmann Stiftung, identifies policies and practices being implemented in different EU Member States to facilitate the labour market integration of recent refugees and asylum seekers. While Volume I comprises a comparative analysis and policy findings, Volume II is dedicated to a literature review on refugee labour market integration as a special category. The latter also includes detailed country reports.

Nine countries (Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK) have been compared and 96 labour market support measures for refugees have been identified and analysed. In general, policies are being put in place to facilitate the integration into the labour market for those asylum seekers who are already in the country, with some notable exceptions such as France and the United Kingdom. However, even in countries aiming to support the rapid labour market integration of asylum seekers, the administrative obstacles remain significant and often render the legal provisions void. Among measures implemented, findings suggest the emergence of a 'standard' package in the field of refugee labour market integration. Early skills assessment, an introduction programme, intensive language courses and access to general job intermediation services are the most recurrent elements of such packages. 

On the effectiveness of analysed measures, the study indicates that due to the recent character of most, it is difficult to draw to suggest success (or failure) factors that emerge from policy practice. But, authors add, even when they have already been implemented over a reasonable period of time, the lack of systematic follow-up and impact evaluation of those policy interventions in most countries, prevents researchers and policymakers from drawing policy conclusions.

However, general overview of support measures also shows a high degree of fragmentation and a thorough lack of coordination in their implementation: there are too many actors taking initiatives and intervening at a local, regional and national level without any kind of coherent strategy or actual exchange of information. The challenges, policy trade-offs and choices involved in the labour market integration of refugees and asylum seekers being relatively similar across countries, there is a real scope for mutual learning, cooperation and even Europe-wide solutions.

Study Volume I
(2.42 MB - PDF)
Study Volume II
(3.56 MB - PDF)


Migration Policy Centre and the Bertelsmann Stiftung
Geographic area
EU Wide
Contributor type
Academics and experts
Original source
Posted by
Paola Mikaba

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