When nearly a million Vietnamese “boat people” fled their country in the late 1970s and early 1980s and sought refuge elsewhere, they were typically seen as a burden and often turned away. Eventually, many were allowed to settle in the US. Most arrived speaking little or no English and with few assets or relevant job skills. Yet Vietnamese refugees are now more likely to be employed and have higher incomes than people born in the US.
The unfolding refugee crisis requires a bold, comprehensive and global response. At the same time, OECD countries should adapt their policies to foster the integration of those who are going to stay. While this implies significant up-front costs, it is also essential to reaping sizeable medium- to long-term social and economic benefits.
The OECD and CEB have led global work on migration for decades: the OECD has contributed analysis, data, knowledge, and tools to inform dialogue and shape policy; and CEB has worked on the frontlines, financing social projects for migrants, refugees, displaced persons, and other vulnerable groups. Given the complementarities between our work, the potential synergies from co-operation are clear.
Sweden should address housing shortages, begin integration activities early, and improve the support for those with low skills to speed up the effective integration of refugees, according to a new OECD report.
This review is the first in a new series on the skills and labour market integration of immigrants and their children. With 16% of its population born abroad, Sweden has one of the larger immigrant populations among the European OECD countries. Estimates suggest that about half of the foreign-born population originally came to Sweden as refugees or as the family of refugees and Sweden has been the OECD country that has had by far the largest inflows of asylum seekers relative to its population. In all OECD countries, humanitarian migrants and their families face greater challenges to integrate into the labour market than other groups. It is thus not surprising that immigrant versus native-born differences are larger than elsewhere, which also must be seen in the context of high skills and labour market participation among the native-born. For both genders, employment disparities are particularly pronounced among the low-educated, among whom immigrants are heavily overrepresented. These immigrants face particular challenges related to the paucity of low-skilled jobs in Sweden, and policy needs to acknowledge that their integration pathway tends to be a long one. Against this backdrop, Sweden has highly developed and longstanding integration policies that mainly aim at upskilling immigrants while temporarily lowering the cost of hiring, while other tools that work more strongly with the social partners and the civil society are less well developed and need strengthening.
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If Germany improves the responsiveness of education and training to the needs of refugees and other migrants, it will also improve integration outcomes.
The OECD LEED Programme launches this "Call for Initiatives" to extract what local authorities and other actors know works, what the new scenario is demanding and how equipped they are to respond. We are interested in learning from the experiences of EU member countries, the wider OECD area as well as other countries.
With the right approach and policies, all countries ─ origin, transit and host ─ can harness the benefits of migration and open up new opportunities for economic and social growth at national, regional and international levels. The OECD remains fully committed to advancing an ambitious, comprehensive and coordinated global agenda to help navigate the current refugee crisis and better harness the strengths and skills of migrants.
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In the last 25 years Greece turned from an emigration to an immigration country. Today the country is faced with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis with the arrival of close to 950,000 people between January 2015 and February 2016.
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The OECD and the UNHCR jointly organised a high-level one-day event focusing on the importance and value of integration. It sought to emphasize the economic opportunity that this presents for receiving societies, while underscoring the need for countries to invest in refugees' integration, including their social inclusion.