Integration of beneficiaries of international protection into the labour market in Belgium and in the EU (EMN)

This EMN study describes the labour market participation of beneficiaries of international protection and provides an overview of support measures that can facilitate labour market participation.

Background information

Integration of third-country nationals is one of the key challenges the EU and Member States currently face. This report describes the labour market access of beneficiaries of international protection in Belgium and the EU and provides an outline of the support measures (including those specifically tailored to beneficiaries of international protection) that facilitate labour market participation. The report also gives an overview of the obstacles and good practices related to the labour market participation and access of beneficiaries of international protection.

Belgian study:

Among other conclusions, the Belgian study highlights that :

  • There are no legal restrictions on labour market access for refugees and a work permit is not required. There are limited restrictions for beneficiaries of subsidiary protection.
  • However, there are a number of practical obstacles that prevent beneficiaries of international protection to find their way to the labour market such as: the language barrier, limited relevant work experience, level of education, difficulties regarding the recognition of qualifications, limited financial assets to become self-employed, etc.. Also the emotional ballast these people can carry along and the situation of poverty they might be in hampers the (labour market) integration process. Besides also the structure of the Belgian labour market and the increasing demands of our labour market makes it very challenging for beneficiaries of international protection to  find a job.
  • There are no recent comprehensive data on the actual labour market participation of beneficiaries of international protection. However, the longitudinal research project CAREERS illustrated that 4 years after the refugee status is granted, about 42% is employed.
  • In Belgium, beneficiaries of international protection are in principle eligible to access the available support measures (languages courses, orientation courses, educational and vocational training, social housing and guaranteed minimum resources) but the support measures are mostly not specifically tailored towards them (similar access to nationals or other foreigners). Furthermore, several practical obstacles might appear, preventing from accessing or fully benefiting from some specific support measures.
  • The report lists a number of obstacles but also identifies several good practices, such as: the focus on language training and wide range of actors providing (compulsory or non-compulsory) language courses, the wide range of vocational and educational training options at different levels, the subsidized employment programmes, etc.

For futher information, please read the full Belgian study (attached). The Belgian Contact Point of the EMN also organised a conference on labour market participation of beneficiaries of international protection. The event took place on the 8th of November 2016 in Brussels.

EU Synthesis

The Synthesis report is based on contributions from EMN National Contact Points in 24 Member States (the national reports can be found here). The EMN Inform summarizes the findings from the study.

  • All Member States have codified the legal right for beneficiaries to access the labour market. But in practice, beneficiaries first have to meet certain administrative conditions (e.g. have a residence permit and/or work permit), which can delay their access to the labour market.
  • In comparison to other migrant groups, beneficiaries are often confronted with additional practical obstacles when accessing the labour market (e.g. psychological and physical distress, lack of documentation proving qualifications, etc.). Such practical obstacles underline the necessity of tailored employment-related support measures specifically targeting beneficiaries.
  • All Member States provide beneficiaries access to a wide range of employment-related support measures (e.g. language courses, orientation services, employment services, etc.).
  • The large majority of Member States provide access to measures in a similar manner to all TCNs. Several others combine generic measures for migrants with specific tailored measures to beneficiaries. Only a few Member States provide measures tailored exclusively to beneficiaries (but there is an increasing trend of policy initiatives to develop more tailored measures in response to the current migration/refugee crisis).
  • Good practices in the provision of employment-related support measures include: linking language learning to the job market to increase the likelihood that learning supports employment; provision of tailored vocational educational training which help to increase employment participation rates; provision of tailored schemes for the recognition of qualifications; provision of additional housing assistance to beneficiaries (e.g. prolonged stay at reception facilities, transitional facilities, etc.). 
  • Beneficiaries face numerous obstacles to access employment-related support measures in all Member States. These include the fact that not all support measures are widely available to all beneficiaries (e.g. because they are offered on a project-basis, are only offered in certain geographical areas, etc.) ; financial costs ; lack of language proficiency ; low educational levels, etc.
  • The (limited) statistics available on the employment rate of beneficiaries indicate that their participation rates are low in the first four or less years of residence, but increase over time. After 20+ years the employment rate becomes almost the same for all categories of migrants.
  • There are differences in the treatment between the various categories of beneficiaries when it comes to labour market access and access to employment-related support measures (e.g. beneficiaries of humanitarian protection are in some Member States subject to more administrative conditions in comparison to refugees/beneficiaries of subsidiary protection).

For further information, please read the full Synthesis Report (attached).

Publication Date:
Thu 26 May 2016
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