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Skills on the Move

Migrants in the Survey of Adult Skills

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Migration has been at the centre of political debate across the OECD in recent years. Drawing on data from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), this report provides new evidence on differences in migrants’ characteristics and contexts and considers how these relate to the skills migrants possess. It also examines the relationship between migrants’ skills and their labour and non-labour market outcomes in host countries. Finally, it sheds new light on how migrants’ skills are developed, used and valued in host country labour markets and societies. Results and lessons gleaned from analysis highlight the way forward for future research on this topic.

The report represents an invaluable resource for policy makers across different sectors as they design and implement strategies aimed at promoting the long-term integration of foreign-born populations in the economic and social life of their countries. The analyses presented allow us to identify the skill composition of foreign-born populations, the labour market and broader social outcomes associated with such skills, and the factors that can promote skill acquisition and skill use.

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The Participation of adult migrants in lifelong learning activities

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.

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