The hurdles in the Austrian labor market for refugees are too high. This is the result of a study by the Vienna Institute for International Research Comparisons commissioned by the National Bank. The study authors recommend easier access to the labor market and additional training measures. In Austria, only people who have already received asylum can work without restrictions.
The researchers examined the employment histories of those refugees who came to Austria in 2015 and 2016, primarily from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran. The refugees therefore needed almost three years to gain a foothold on the Austrian labor market. Afterwards, they caught up with other migrant groups, but they stayed longer in low-paying jobs, working for the respective employer for an average of eight months. This was also due to a lack of knowledge of German.
“The much later entry into the job market, the low quality of entry-level jobs and the persistence in the precarious low-wage sector have a negative impact on the refugees’ further employment careers,” says co-author of the study and JKU professor Michael Landesmann. Employing academics as kitchen helpers is “economically absurd”; it is also detrimental to their self-confidence and career prospects. The authors therefore advocate better recognition of educational qualifications acquired abroad.
It turns out that refugees often rely on their ethnic community when looking for a job. Women, in turn, have a much lower labor force participation rate than male refugees due to childcare responsibilities and traditional gender roles. Traumatic experiences of flight and war are also cited as an obstacle to labor market integration.
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