Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion

News 26/11/2020

Mutual Learning conference on “Innovative approaches to integration and inclusion of migrants”

This conference offered an opportunity to exchange innovative practices on labour market and social inclusion of migrants and people with a migrant background, in particular those facing specific obstacles such as women or the low-skilled, and tackled policy areas such as skills assessment, recognition and development. It also reflected on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the labour market integration and social inclusion of migrants in the EU.

The conference built on the policy findings developed over the last years, which have called for more integrated and holistic approaches, and the need for improved evidence-based policies and applicable good practice examples, as highlighted in last year’s Mutual Learning Conference on ‘Sustainable inclusion of migrants into society and labour market’(which took place on 12 April 2019 in Brussels).

The workshops focused on:

  • new approaches in mapping and developing the skills of non-EU migrants, in light of the updated Skills Agenda and the New Pact on Migration and Asylum
  • good practice innovations in overcoming barriers to employment and social inclusion of migrant women
  • innovative approaches to ensure fast-track labour market integration and social inclusion of migrants and
  • matching migrants with employment opportunities on the post Covid-19 labour market

The conference brought together up to 130 policy experts on integration and inclusion of migrants from the national administrations of the EU Member States, representatives of civil society, the European Commission and umbrella economic and social partner organisations.

All documents related to this conference, including the two thematic papers as well as the short and synthesis reports will be available on this webpage after the event.


In 2020, President of the European Commission von der Leyen highlighted a fresh start on asylum and migration. On 23 September 2020, a proposal for a new Pact on Migration and Asylum was published underlining the importance of migrants’ integration and inclusion in our labour markets and societies. Among other initiatives, a new Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion for the period 2021-2024 is foreseen to be adopted in November 2020. The Mutual Learning Conference can provide a platform for a valuable and timely policy debate.

In 2019, 23.4 million people (4.6 %) living in the EU were non-EU citizens and 40 million people (7.8%) were born outside the EU. During the recent years, migration has contributed to preventing the European population from shrinking. Estimates suggest that without net migration, the EU population would reduce by 57 million persons in 2060 compared to 2019.

The educational, labour market and social inclusion outcomes of third-country migrants tend to be weaker than those of the native population. In 2019, the employment rate of non EU-born persons was around 7% percentage points below that of native-born persons. Closing this gap would lead to around 3 million more people in employment.

At the same time, the unemployment rate of non-EU born persons was 5.5 percentage points higher that that of native born persons (11.3% vs. 5.8%) and there are substantial gender gaps. Migrant women are facing more barriers and obstacles to inclusion than migrant men. In addition, migrants are more often employed below their qualifications, compared to native born workers. Improved skills recognition would contribute to an easier access to the EU labour market.

Migrants are also more likely to face poverty and social exclusion than native-born persons. In 2018, just over one fifth (19.9 %) of EU-born persons faced such a risk compared to almost two fifths of non-EU born persons (37.2 %). Children with a migration background also tend to be more exposed to poverty than native-born children. Finally, the in-work poverty rate of migrants is almost double that of the native-born population in several Member States.

Integration is also crucial to ensure social cohesion in the society. According to the Eurobarometer on Integration (2018), only around half of Europeans believe that the integration of migrants is successful. At the same time, nearly 70% of Europeans state that integrating immigrants is a necessary investment in the long-run and a majority of Europeans see an important role for the European Union in promoting integration.

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