Local Economic and Employment Development (LEED Programme)

Seminar: Better jobs for ethnic minority and immigrant youth (Paris, France)


Fulfilling promise:
Improving employment outcomes for ethnic minority and immigrant youth


22 October 2010

OECD Headquarters, Paris


Organised by the OECD LEED Programme in collaboration with the European Commission,
within the framework of the Forum for Local Governance and Partnerships,
with a key note presentation by Professor Roger Waldinger (UCLA).



A one day seminar was held as part of the ongoing See the project website for full project details examining ways to improve the employment outcomes of young people from ethnic minority and immigrant backgrounds.

Local practitioners, policy makers, case study authors and employer representatives came together to create an overarching framework of theory, evaluation and best practice. 
A number of clear policy conclusions emerged, designed to ensure that all young people from ethnic minorities, whether they be first, second or third generation, achieve their potential in the labour market and forge good quality careers.



A large number of experts participated with a number of guest speakers including Professor Roger Waldinger (UCLA), an expert on international migration, Kim Turner, project leader in the Cities of Migration network, Ann Van den Cruyce, head of division of Labour Market Policy in the Flemish Government, and Dionne Abdoelhafiezkhan, founder and director of the King Movement Foundation/Hi5. 

In addition, interventions were also made from a number of OECD experts from the LEED Programme and Anne Sonnet and Thomas Liebig from the OECD Directorate of Employment, Labour and Social Affairs.



The one day seminar was divided into five discussion sessions.

Session 1: An overview of the trends and outcomes of ethnic minority and immigrant youth in the labour market today

This proved a stimulating opening for the day’s discussions, with four key speakers giving an overview of the trends and outcomes of the target group in the labour market today.

Session 2: Education based approaches

A number of presentations were made on local interventions taking place in Vienna, Madrid, and Antwerp, focusing on education based approaches.  Points discussed included what factors contribute to high dropout rates among the target group, ways to tackle this, and the value of competence based learning.

Session 3: Building good quality career paths and the role of the social economy

This included presentations on ways in which the target group have been aided in establishing good quality career paths in Bury, Brisbane and London.  The role of employers was examined, as well as common barriers to employment. The session ended with broader discussions on the role of the social economy.

Session 4: To target or not to target?

This session provoked rich debate. Participants considered the merits of interventions targeted specifically at migrant youth versus those open to all. Some advocated direct targeting, others called for “implicit” place based approaches, while others countered that the emphasis need to be fixed primarily on poverty and social class.

Session 5: Policy recommendations

Session 5 closed the seminar with policy recommendations.  A brief synopsis of the economic and social advantages offered to cities of having a young, ethnically diverse population was provided and recommendations from the audience were summarised. It was emphasised that such policy debates are taking place against the backdrop of an increasingly divided political discourse regarding migrants.



Policy recommendations

Participants made the following key recommendations essential to successful local policy intervention. Such measures are essential at a time when migrant youth are caught in a global recession, with many facing the “triple whammy” of lower qualification levels, less labour market experience, and often living in areas with weaker labour economies.

1. Where possible policy should be co-created and co-delivered.

2. Policy should be aware of and seek to address intergenerational and multigenerational issues.

3. Outreach and advocacy services are essential and often fill the gaps between mainstream public services.

4. Investment is crucial - services and outcomes cannot be delivered without significant and effectively targeted public support. Education is the single most important area in which more should be invested.

5. Demand side policies are vital - increasing awareness, job and business creation and employer involvement, especially in the most deprived communities.

6. Sharing success and influencing the public and political discourse must be a constant goal to ensure that debates are informed by real evidence rather than stereotype.


These recommendations fed into the Fulfilling Promise learning manual for local practitioners.



For further information or to be added to the Fulfilling Promise mailing network please contact Ms Lucy Pyne.