Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Austria 2014

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Austria has low levels of labour migration from non-EU/EFTA countries. At the same time, intra-EU free mobility has grown significantly and since 2011, overall migration for employment is above the OECD average. It recently reformed its labour migration system, making it more ready to accept labour migrants where they are needed, especially in medium-skilled occupations in which there were limited admission possibilities previously. This publication analyses the reform and the Austrian labour migration management system in international comparison.


Permanent labour migration to Austria

This chapter examines the functioning of the Austrian system for permanent labour migration. It looks both at its efficiency – i.e. the time, cost and complexity of processing – and its effectiveness, that is its ability to respond to labour market demand. Labour market tested “key workers”, mostly in higher skilled occupations, are by far the most important category under the new RWR-Card scheme, followed by workers in shortage occupations. Numbers in the very highly skilled category, the international student track and the entrepreneur track are marginal, as well as the inflow of EU Blue Card holders. Overall, the system is rather complex and does not build sufficiently on the potential strengths of Austria as a destination country. Examples of the complexity include overlapping schemes, which are often aimed at the same target group. The number of schemes could be rationalised, and the structure for admissions of highly skilled workers could be simplified. The introduction of a points-system has made admission criteria more transparent, but the parameters of selection do not always seem well balanced and targeted. Examples include the low rating given to German-language skills, and the lack of preference for Austrian qualifications, unless they correspond to a master degree, which currently hamper the benefits that Austria could reap from its reform. Administrative procedures could be streamlined. Rejection rates are high and migrants and employers appear ill-informed about the requirements. Increasing application fees could help to avoid clearly ineligible applications and the money raised could be used to improve the client-service aspect.


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