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Session Overview
RN35_07c: Migration and the Labour Market
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Gordana Dragomir Vuksanovic, Novi Sad Business School
Location: BS.G.33
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road

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Transient Wishes: Labour Market Aspirations of Highly Educated Refugees in Malmö and Munich

Katarina Mozetič

University of Oslo, Norway

The paper engages with the topic of labour market participation of highly educated refugees. More precisely, it looks at highly educated refugees’ aspirations in the destination country labour markets, the factors determining these aspirations and how labour market objectives change over time. To tackle this topic, the paper draws on 31 semi-structured interviews with highly educated refugees who live in Malmö and Munich, and their surroundings. The preliminary analysis of the interview material shows that – although not all – the predominant majority of research participants wishes to continue working or studying within their occupational field. This wish is connected to a number of reasons such as the sense of identity and the possession of specific occupational cultural capital. However, highly educated refugees’ labour market aspirations are not set in stone, but are subjected to an array of dynamics over time. Dreams are re-examined in light of actual possibilities, objectives are altered in face of obstacles and newly arisen opportunities. Drawing on highly educated refugees’ narratives concerning their labour market aspirations, the paper offers a dynamic, bottom-up perspective on labour market integration processes of highly educated refugees. To grasp highly educated refugees’ labour market aspirations, the changes these wishes are subjected to over time and the factors affecting these, the paper proposes the application of amended aspirations-capabilities framework (de Haas, 2014).

Migration Trajectories, Social Networks and Employment Rates

Michael Eve

University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy

Much research has documented the "refugee gap", the lower employment rates of refugees and asylum seekers compared with "other migrants". This disadvantage cannot be explained by individual characteristics like age, gender and education, nor by economic conditions at time of arrival or by the region of origin (and hence the "race") of migrants. Research has provided interesting results regarding health of refugees, the effect of dispersal policies, and of waiting times as factors which may lower employment rates. However, these explanations, too, leave much data unexplained, and it is argued that other factors need to be considered. Little systematic attention has been given to the social networks of asylum seekers, even though a large literature has shown the importance of networks in finding jobs. Drawing on information on recent asylum seekers in Italy, compared with migrants arriving via the work channel, I show there are important differences which probably have consequences for the ability to find jobs, and also for the ability to be functional in the workplace, and so maintain employment.

I argue that this difference in the social networks of asylum seekers and "other migrants" is one explanation for the "refugee gap" found in many countries. We know that most labour migrants arrive migrate via a consolidated migration chain. This is not usually the case for asylum seekers, who cannot usually choose which place to go to. More in general I argue that migrants' "migration trajectories" have systematic effects on networks in the place of immigration. I argue that quantitative data on employment rates of migrants arriving via different channels (international protection/work/study/family reunification), and qualitative data, support this hypothesis.

Identity, Belonging and Economic Outcomes in England and Wales

Ivelina Hristova

London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

The United Kingdom’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union exposed the need to look at economic equality through an identity lens. However, academia has not agreed on the impact of national identity on labour market outcomes, and the impacts of national identity on progression at work have not been studied yet. To fill these gaps, this paper explores whether having British identity impacts progression at work for sub-state national and migrant-origin groups in England and Wales.

Logit models are run on the ONS Quarterly Labour Force Survey to compare the impacts on career progression chances of each of the eight identity combinations between the three dimensions – British, sub-state national and migrant-origin, themselves influenced by social class. Having one dimension fixed, the models compare how the interplay between the other two affects progression at work. The results suggest that identity-related power relations, in-group preferences and bias at work create disadvantage to career progression. This disadvantage is particularly strong and highly significant for migrant-origin groups who do not feel British, compared to their sub-state national counterparts. This paper also shows a quantitative evidence for differences in what British identity means for sub-state national and migrant-origin groups in the first place. The novel approach sheds more light into the differential labour market behaviours of migrant-origin and sub-state national groups, and adds to the better understanding of the feeling of belonging to Britain. The results provide a basis for innovative policy recommendations at the work place and beyond.

Female Agency in Semi-Legality – Life Strategies of Serbian Women in France and Germany

Dunja Poleti Cosic

Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia

The main focus of the paper will be on the life strategies of economically active Serbian women living in semi-legality across two European destination countries, France and Germany. We start from Kubal’s definition of semi-legality, that calls into question the binary categories describing migrants’ interactions with law, such as regular/irregular or documented/undocumented, and in which semi-legality is conceptualized as “multi-dimensional space where migrants’ formal immigration status interacts with various forms of agency towards the law” (Kubal, 2013:566-567). This broader notion implies that the status of semi-legality could be obtained not only when immigrants fail to obey the migration laws and regulations, but also when their employment and residential statuses mismatch. Therefore, the aim of this paper is twofold. Firstly, we want to explore the interplay between illegality of immigration and informality of labour statuses in order to map the variety of the existing forms. Secondly, we want to examine what life strategies women chose in the given circumstances, reconciling not only migration and labour statuses but also imposed gender roles. The findings presented in this paper have been obtained in a study aiming to enlighten the intersection of migration practices and gender regimes, using biographical-narrative approach. The data were collected through 60 semi-structured in-depth interviews, with the reconstruction of the life trajectory of interviewees. In contrast to the most common way of defining migrants through their formal status, the study included economically active women, regardless of how the legal system classifies them.

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