Table of Contents

  • Migration has been at the centre of policy debate across the OECD in recent years, largely due to the refugee crisis. In many countries, responses to this crisis, in particular policies aimed at supporting and facilitating the integration of migrants, have been deeply polarising. The debate often considers migrants as a homogenous group, characterised by low skills, little chance of integrating and thus, a burden on the public purse and on society.

  • Migration has been at the centre of the political debate across the OECD in recent years and debates over policies that aim to support and facilitate the integration of migrants have, at times, become deeply polarising. This is, in no small part, because of lack of solid evidence on the skills migrants bring to their host communities.

  • This report presents an in depth analysis of the skills of migrants based on the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Offering a unique picture of the skills held by adult migrants in OECD countries, the report provides a rare insight into how migrants’ skills are developed, used and valued in host-country labour markets and societies. This overview chapter outlines the main findings of the report and sets the ground for further research going forward.

  • This chapter describes the literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills of migrants based on results from the two first rounds of the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC). Migrants’ skill proficiency is compared with natives’ proficiency and across countries participating in PIAAC. Particular emphasis is placed on the low and high performers, as well as on migrant groups defined on the basis of their migration experience. The chapter also examines the influence of proficiency in the host-country language, and where a migrant’s education was completed, on migrants’ skills in literacy, numeracy and problem solving in technology-rich environments.

  • Chapter 3 illustrates that foreign-born individuals whose mother tongue is different from the language of the test tend to have lower literacy and numeracy proficiency (when these are assessed in the language of their country of residence) and poorer labour market outcomes than individuals whose mother tongue matches the language spoken in the country. However, language penalties in information processing skills and labour market outcomes vary considerably, both across countries and within countries across different migrant groups. This chapter illustrates that the depth of the language penalty in skills and labour market outcomes is related to the degree of proximity between the mother tongue spoken by migrants and the language spoken in the country of destination. Individuals whose mother tongue is very different from the language spoken in their country of residence have very low proficiency relative to the native born if they arrived in the host country after the age of 12, and the negative impact persists irrespective of length of stay. Furthermore, these individuals are less likely to have access to gainful employment, irrespective of their age, gender or educational level.

  • Lifelong learning is a crucial ingredient of skills policies, in that it might facilitate re-skilling (in response to changing skills demands) and prevent age-related skills decline (in response to longer working careers). Migrants might have more incentives and a higher need to participate in adult training, but might also face higher financial or non-financial barriers to participation. This Chapter shows that migrants participate less in lifelong learning than natives, but the differences are not very large, and are mostly accounted for by differences in observable individual characteristics. On the other hand, migrants are more likely to report not having been able to participate in training activities they were interested in, largely because of financial barriers and family responsibilities. Migrants therefore appear to express a high demand for existing training opportunities, and indeed the data show that, once they are able to gain access to training opportunities, migrants tend to spend more time than natives in such activities.

  • This chapter focuses on how foreign-born workers fare in the host-country labour market. It focuses on earnings, occupational status and the extent to which foreign-born workers’ skills are used in the workplace. It also discusses the factors that could affect these outcomes, including immigrants’ proficiency in literacy, numeracy and the host-country language, their country of origin, and where they acquired their education.

  • This chapter analyses the non-labour market outcomes of migrants, examining whether and to what extent these differ from the outcomes of the native-born population. The analyses focus on self-reported health, political efficacy, interpersonal trust and volunteering. Previous analyses of data from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) have shown that literacy and numeracy skills are positively associated with many aspects of individual well-being, like health, active participation in the political process, levels of interpersonal trust, and involvement in volunteer or associative activities. This chapter examines if the association between skills and these non-labour market outcomes differs between migrants and natives, and how this connection is intertwined with education, age, gender and other individual characteristics.