From Immigration to Integration

Local Solutions to a Global Challenge

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For the potential advantages of migration to be harnessed, it is crucial that immigration be accompanied by integration, or effective mechanisms for ensuring that immigrants are incorporated into labour markets, the economy and society. While immigration policy is often determined, designed and funded at the national level, its impact on migrants and society is more strongly felt at the local level where other policies interact. This publication highlights principles and factors which are important in supporting integration locally. A comparison of local initiatives implemented in five OECD countries - Canada, UK (London), Spain, Italy, and Switzerland - answers key questions facing all policy makers and stakeholders working in this field. This book provides a set of concrete policy recommendations for implementation at both local and national levels.

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Executive Summary

The integration of immigrants at the local level is a topic of significant interest for OECD countries. The growing importance of the knowledge economy means that the battle for talent is becoming as important as the battle for inward investment, and skilled migrants can offer a significant comparative advantage to local labour markets, as long as their potential is harnessed. Unskilled migrants are also in demand, particularly where rising living costs make lower paid jobs unattractive to the native population, and where demographic change and population movement combine to reduce the self-sufficiency of local labour markets. For the potential advantages of migration to be maximised however, it is crucial that immigration is accompanied by integration, that is, effective mechanisms for ensuring immigrants are effectively incorporated into local labour markets. Paradoxically, at the same time that migration is increasing in global importance, there is worrying evidence that integration results do not seem to be as favourable in a number of countries as they were in the past.

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