Commission – cooperation for the integration of migrants in the EU’s labor market

Last 7 September 2020, the Commission and its Economic and Social Partners, as for example trade unions, chambers of commerce and industry and employers’ organizations, renewed their fruitful cooperation to enhance the integration of migrants and refugees into the EU labor market. Signatories had launched this cooperation in December 2017 under the European Partnership for Integration, and now they have decided to continue it, because they deeply recognize the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach for early integration of refugees and migrants into the labor market. By the way, this integrating mechanism favors not only them, but also the whole European economy and society. In this regard, the Commission admits that migrants and refugees build a relevant part of EU’s workforce. In particular, many of them contributed significantly to the European economy, labor market and public services also during the most arduous moments of the COVID-19 crisis. Equally, many others were hit heavily by specific challenges, like unexpected unemployment. Also, especially in time of increasing unemployment rates like nowadays, factors as racism and xenophobia may become more common in the society and may represent even more serious obstacles to their participation into the labor market.

These problems drive the Commission immediately to intervene, because it is indeed aware of the fact that migrant workers and entrepreneurs can play a fundamental role in the recovery phase after the pandemic crisis. Beyond the current health crisis, and structurally, the Commission believes that a stronger cooperation with countries of origin and a better intelligence on skills and labor market shortages can be very advantageous. The skills and potentialities of migrants and refugees should be valued more to make the European labor market more inclusive, to support the economic growth more strongly and to make the European societies more prosperous and cohesive in the long-term. Since the beginning of this European partnership in 2017, the European Commission and the European Social and Economic Partners have worked closely to set up and co-fund several innovative actions and initiatives in more than twenty EU countries. Now, the European Commission and the European Social and Economic Partners want to increase the impact of their cooperation on the European economy and society. They decide to carry out longer their cooperation, because they acknowledge still more that the global mobility and the increased arrivals to EU Member States over the last years, in particular of persons who demand for international protection, pose a number of challenges to the Member States societies. Member States need an appropriate legal framework and incremental investments to succeed in facing such humanitarian crisis. They must be provided of the right conditions to receipt the many refugees and migrants and get them quickly and effectively into work.

By renewing their cooperation for a durable integration into the EU labor market, the Commission counts on all necessary key players for an efficient functioning of the labor market, economy, and protection of welfare of all workers. For this, the EU and the Social and Economic Partners rely particularly on the early action of Member States, which shall ensure that the different layers of integration paths work in synergy and shall intervene in areas as language training, work practice, vocational training, apprenticeship, housing, health support and child care. The Commission continues to call for the collaboration of public authorities at local, regional, national, and European level, including the civil society. In exchange, the Commission provides them with the necessary feedback on the specific challenges they face in the economic and social integration.

For the future, the Commission and its cooperators agree to converge more stakeholders to each other across the economy and society. They aim at fostering a wider interaction and a closer cooperation between public and private enterprises involving in the project more subjects, for example further public employment services, chambers of skilled crafts, business organizations, education and training providers, civil society organizations and most importantly the immigrants and refugees themselves. The close cooperation is created mainly by exchanging objectives, methods and practices related to the labor market integration. First, however, the Commission and the Economic and Social Partners wish to improve the critical situations among the labor migration channels in order to change concretely the labor market and the skills needed. For what concerns the skills and knowledges of the refugees and migrants, among the national and local initiatives provided by the cooperation, are included for example the organization of mentoring programs that support refugees to integrate them into the workplace and /or support their skills development, the provision of pre-recruitment and on-the-job training, the support to employers in hiring refugees, the support to trainers in adapting training to refugees need, the provision of post-placement to ensure sustainability of employment and the promotion of inclusion and non-discrimination at the workplace. Further, the cooperation will continue to address the issue in relevant groups, committees, and networks at the EU level, such as the Employment Committee, the European Integration Network, and the European Network of Public Employment Services. New transnational networks will be set up and developed. Future efforts will also be focused on the entrepreneurship, which strongly contributes to the economy and its recovery. More, the processes of identification, assessment, and validation of the skills of the individuals should be rendered more smoothly. Finally, the Social and Economic Partners commit to provide more information and advice on the rights and duties concerning the access to the labor market and at the workplace. All these important objectives are indeed in line with the upcoming New Pact on Migration and Asylum and the new European Skills Agenda. The Agenda sets ambitious, quantitative objectives for the next five years and it is based on values of sustainability, competitiveness, social fairness, and resilience. The program is structured in 12 actions and it aims mainly at upskilling, that means to improve the existing skills, like to invest more in the public and private field, and at reskilling, namely, to train new skills. Both rights are indeed enshrined in the European Pillar of Social Rights, which sets out 20 key principles and rights to support fair  and well-functioning labor markets, providing equal opportunities and access to the labor market, fair working conditions and social protection and inclusion. In general, the EU wants to pursue this policy to give everyone across Europe the opportunity to enhance its skills and adapt to the new market. At the same time, business will have more qualified workers to master successfully new transitions in an economy that is becoming more and more green and digital. Indeed, the need for competent workers is today an emergency since the coronavirus pandemic has increased or let occurred in advance many new difficult challenges. What the EU wants to achieve for the migrants and refugees is very close to what it means to do at the moment with the young generations. Young Europeans too are facing many uncertainties or problems to find a new job, in particular because of the COVID-19 crisis. Young people also deserve more opportunities in order to take an active role in the European society and economy. That is why, the EU expects to invest in the next month’s 22 billion euros to support youth employment. This money should finance the new measures that are launched by the EU. Among these measures, the EU aims at strengthening the youth guarantees, that means that every person that signs up at the Youth Guarantee should receive a good quality-offer of job, education, apprenticeship or traineeship in just 4 months. Then, vocational education and training (VET) should be modernized to make the transition from school to work smoother. In numbers, more than 4 out of 5 VET graduates should be employed after their studies. In conclusion, boosting apprenticeships by making students alternate between school and work is another important step to better develop the skills and knowledges that employers are looking for.