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04.05 Sustainable Labor Market Integration of First Generation Migrant Groups: The Quest for the ‘Migrant-Organization Fit’

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Aim of the project

Europe is experiencing a substantial influx of first-time migrants. In 2015, 2.6 million first residence permits to third country nationals were granted, whereas in 2016, 1.2 million first time asylum seekers were registered, many of whom are expected to be granted asylum. Many call to speedily integrate these migrants in the labour market, for social and moral reasons, and to counterbalance host societies’ costs for reception and integration, estimated to range between 17 and 22 billion Euros in 2016 in the EU. However, refugees experience significant barriers in entering the labour market as well as in their career trajectories.

Studies show that migrant group characteristics influence their chances in the labour market and that diversity management approaches to migrant workers in organizations differ. Nevertheless, little is known about which combination(s) of individual and organizational factors facilitate the successful recruitment and retention (R&R) of migrant employees in European labour markets.

This PhD project investigates the labour market integration of refugees by examining the combination of individual-level and organizational-level factors at different stages of the Dutch integration process. To do so, we combine both sociological knowledge on organizational factors with social psychological knowledge focusing on, for example, the role of cultural differences, language, and intergroup contact.

Research Design and Data – Information on Subprojects

The first subproject focuses on the early stages of the integration process, specifically the role of volunteering for the development of refugees’ language use and intergroup contact, as well as gaining knowledge of and access to the Dutch labour market, and its impact on perceived cultural distance. We use longitudinal, quantitative data from questionnaires to analyse the impact of the volunteering experience for refugees.

Study 2 focuses on the stage of having received a temporary residence permit. Specifically, we investigate the impact of a one-year combined language and work training on the language use, learner agency, and social interactions of (semi-)illiterate refugees (N=10); a group for whom labour market integration is known to be especially difficult. We expect that, through experiential learning, the integration of relevant vocabulary, and contact with Dutch colleagues, refugees’ language use and interactions will become more frequent and complex, ultimately leading to higher learner agency, well-being, and better preparedness for the Dutch labour market. To test this, we employ a longitudinal, mixed-methods design (semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, observations at work and in class). Overall, despite slow progress in language skills and lack of contact on the workfloor, student’s interactions, speaking in class, and use of advanced language strategies increased. However, analysing individual cases (profiles) offered more nuanced insights into for whom and why the program seems to have differential impact, and highlighted the need for intergroup contact at work.

For studies 3 and 4 we make use of register data from Statistics Netherlands (CBS) to analyse the impact of organizational characteristics (company composition, previous hiring decisions) on the hiring of humanitarian migrants from the 2014/2015 cohort on a population level. For this cohort, the biggest groups come from Syria, Eritrea, and Ethiopia. We investigate descriptive results on the labour market position of this new cohort, for whom relatively little is known yet. Additionally, we explore the effects of organizational composition and past hiring decisions for the period of 2005-2013 on hiring refugees in the 2014-2018 period, whilst controlling for sector and size. Based on theories on the migrant-organization fit and cultural capital, we expect that previous hiring of non-Western migrants(/refugees) increases an organization’s likelihood to hire from this cohort. Furthermore, we hypothesize that organizations are more likely to hire Syrian refugees compared to Eritrean refugees.

  • Discipline
    Sociology, Psychology
  • Location
    Department of Psychology, Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, University of Groningen
  • Period
    October 1, 2017 - current