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Jobs for Immigrants (Vol. 2)

Labour Market Integration in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Portugal

image of Jobs for Immigrants (Vol. 2)

When immigrants arrive in a new country, they are confronted with new labour market requirements such as language proficiency, familiarity with job search procedures and work practices which they are not always able to satisfy. These obstacles affect not only new immigrants, but, surprisingly, their children too, even if the children are born and educated in the receiving country. This publication presents reviews of the labour market integration of immigrants and their children in four OECD countries (Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Portugal), and provides country-specific recommendations. Governments have a role to play in promoting language and vocational training, and encouraging diversity in the workplace. Immigrants themselves must accept the requirements of the host country employers. The viability of future migration policies, in particular greater recourse to immigration, will depend to a large extent on how successful OECD countries and immigrants are in achieving these objectives.

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The labour market integration of immigrants and their children in France

The issue of labour market integration of immigrants in France evokes immediately the incidents of autumn 2005, which saw clashes between police and young persons of immigrant background and widespread burning of automobiles and damage to property, in areas with high concentrations of immigrants. The image conveyed in media outside of France about these events is often one of failed integration, of rootless youth with inadequate education and without employment. However, as was pointed out by numerous observers at the time, in many cases the persons involved in these incidents were not immigrants, but rather the offspring of immigrants, many of them born and educated in France and holding French citizenship. The classical economic view of integration (Chiswick, 1978) in which immigrants lacking country-specific human capital (especially language) acquire it over time and see their labour market outcomes converge to those of the native-born does not seem particularly relevant in this context.

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