SIRIUS project publication: Social Partners – enablers and barriers for newcomers’ integration

On 2 March 2020, the SIRIUS (Skill and integration of migrants, refugees and asylum applicants in the European Labour Markets) project Consortium has released the fruition of 6 months-worth of research run by researchers from the Glasgow Caledonian University on social partners’ role in the integration of migrants and refugees in the labour market. Comprising the project’s Work Package 5, the research report details the way in which trade unions and employers’ organisations are enabling and imposing barriers to migrants and refugees in their quest for successful integration in Europe. The report is based on case studies from Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, Finland, Italy, Switzerland and the UK.

The study reveals an increased awareness of social partners across the EU on the risks that newcomers confront with given poor regulation for labour market integration and on the essential skills that the newcomers exhibit. Though, theoretically speaking, social partners understand the migrants’ status, the study captures also their concerns given pressures imposed by the people they represent but also given the policy and legal architecture in their own country. Language skills, legal and administrative hurdles for labour market integration, inadequate mechanisms for recognizing previous qualifications, lack of services for integration, and discrimination are highlighted by social partners as challenges that frustrate the integration of migrants and refugees in the labour market. The inappropriate support received from the country of destination pushes migrants and refugees towards the irregular economy, perpetuating stereotypes about them within the native population. This vicious cycle has to be ended, especially given social partners’ appreciation of migrants and refugees, and how much they could help newcomers. However, the report reveals that a stepping stone for this would be to intensify the occurrence of social dialogue practices generally speaking, and more specifically towards topics related to the integration of newcomers, given how apprehensive national public authorities have been so far on this.

SOLIDAR, as SIRIUS project partner, fully endorses the findings and calls on adopting a facts-based perspective, understanding, without prejudice, how migrants and refugees contribute to European labour markets. It is essential to understand that the cross-cutting issue of migration requires a cross-sectoral collaboration, among a wide variety of partners, including public authorities, social partners and civil society organisations. This is where SIRIUS derives its relevance by providing research on all these actors and building up a framework that would consider the situation of migrants and refugees in its totality.

You can find the entire report, as well as the Policy Brief, in attachment.