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Integration of immigrants and refugees in European workplaces



EAWOP special call “Contributions to the integration of immigrants and refugees in European workplaces”. The six funded projects

Europe is experiencing an influx of migrants and refugees unprecedented in recent decades. It is plausible to expect that in two to three years several million refugees will have settled in Europe, seeking integration and employment. Psychological knowledge and interventions aimed at helping immigrants and refugees have so far mostly concentrated on trauma and general mental health treatment. There is a need to broaden such knowledge and interventions to include work-related issues. To mark the EAWOP 25th anniversary the Executive Committee (EC) has launched in November 2015 a special call for proposals aimed at “Contributions to the integration of immigrants and refugees in European workplaces”. Six projects concerning research and practice oriented initiatives have been funded in the context of the special call. The abstracts of the projects are presented below, together with contact details of the corresponding principal investigator. 


Integrating Immigrants and Refugees in the European Workplace: Challenges, Threats, and Solutions


Work plays a central role for individuals’ identity and mental health. Therefore, it is important to develop strategies for integrating immigrants and refugees in the European workplace. The aim of our conference was threefold. First, we aimed to identify immigrants and refugees have to face before becoming and while being employed. Second, we highlighted and recognized the value of diversity in organizations. Third, we aimed to identify processes which advances effective integration in organizations. To achieve our goals (i.e., promote immigrants’ and refugees’ integration in the European workplace) we held a one and half-day interdisciplinary (e.g., psychology, pedagogy, economics, political science, and law) conference. Our conference revealed barriers that immigrants and refugees have to face and showed opportunities how to overcome them. Moreover, we identified ways to implement the advantage of diversity in organizations and how those can be fostered. Finally, the conference shed light on processes which effectively advance integration in organizations. Although our conference provided deep insight into the addressed questions, we have to gain a deeper understanding of how those findings can be applied. Especially, we have to investigate how the existing knowledge can be transferred to policy makers. The conference was a forum for exchange of knowledge between practitioners and scholars in order to improve the integration process for immigrants and refugees in the European workplaces. Beyond the exchange of knowledge, the conference acted as a seed corn for further international and interdisciplinary research projects and co-operations between scholars and practitioners.

Contact details: David F. Urschler, University of Jena, Germany.      


Employment Barriers of Refugees in Turkey


Syrian refugee crisis is in its fifth year and according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the largest number of registered Syrian refugees settled in Turkey’s borders. Turkey faces the challenge of refugees’ integration to host communities by letting them access to labor market. However, there are hurdles in this process. This project explores barriers especially in the recruitment process that inhibit placement of refugees to appropriate positions in accordance with their before-war competencies. Currently, we investigate the perception of stakeholders on refugees’ integration to work. The industries with labor shortage in Turkey is examined. These initial steps are realized to meet the objectives of project for “understanding perspectives of stakeholders towards migration/refugees” and “analyzing labor shortage in Turkey”. Stakeholders are seen as employers, representatives from Ministry of Interior, UNHCR Turkey, and Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM). In order to explore sectors which have vacancies in Turkey, we investigate Eurostat statistics. Third phase focuses on identifying potential labor force, i.e., competencies of Syrian refugees in order. The key variables include length/areas of residence in Turkey, demographic characteristics, household composition, pre-migration qualifications like language, education, occupation/employment at home country. Employment conditions and terms, industry, salary, job satisfaction, and employer attitudes are explored with currently employed refugees. This study aims to contribute to refugees’ integration to labor market by applying scientist-practitioner perspective of industrial/organizational psychology which will be the ground to discuss the findings of current project as well.

Contact details: ?dil I??k, ?stanbul Bilgi University, Istanbul, Turkey.


Canada vs. Germany: Is Canada a model immigration nation?


The challenges of managing and integrating immigrants and refugees into local economies is an increasingly important area of concern for organizational scholars, practitioners, and government policymakers in particular. Canada and Germany are both host economies currently experiencing major influx of migrants and refugees and are therefore often compared in terms of local prosperity, labour market opportunities and ability to attract these populations. Yet, each of these countries is also experiencing a unique set of challenges related to issues such as underemployment of these foreign job seekers as well  “liability-of-foreignness” or lack of legitimacy and therefore more challenges experienced by foreigners in finding a job than their local counterparts, who are locally qualified and experienced and thus more familiar with the local labor market. In order to foster discussion on potential solutions to these international challenges, we will conduct a two day Knowledge Exchange Symposium between Canada and Germany organized in Bamberg Germany (Dec. 15-16) with the following question: Canada vs. Germany: Is Canada a model immigration nation? This knowledge exchange forum features both highly recognized academics and practitioners in the field of migrant and refugee integration in Canada and Germany. Key note speakers, presentations and panel discussions will compare current successes as well as challenges in policies and practices and related research findings coming from Canada and Germany. This exchange will present a fertile ground for learning and knowledge exchange on best practices as well as development of future research and network collaborations. The event will also involve specific sessions fostering networking and more informal exchange where practitioners and academics will be able to exchange ideas and most importantly build partnerships.

Contact details: Jelena Zikic, York University, Toronto, Canada. & Prof. Ute-Christine Klehe, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany (

Career capital, support and barriers to refugees’ labor market integration to European labor market


Employment is one of the most successful strategies for migrants’ integration into a host country. It provides social contacts, financial security and resources necessary for everyday life. However, unemployment rates are quite high among refugee groups and those who do get employment typically work in secondary labor markets. Our current research program aims to investigate to what extent individual career capital interact with institutional support and barriers in affecting employment outcomes among refugees and asylum seekers. We focus the investigation on refugees in Greece, where high unemployment rates, instable employment relationships, and increased prevalence of undeclared work might make access to work particularly challenging. At the time of writing, survey data is being collected in collaboration with a local refugee care organization. Surveys are being administered in Arabic, Farsi, Tigrinya, and French, languages spoken in Syria, Eritrea, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq, which are the most common origin countries of approved asylum seekers within EU in 2015. To increase generalizability of the findings comparative studies in diverse labor market contexts are recommended. Additionally, large scale longitudinal studies are needed to fully capture the process of labor market integration. Based on the results, we intend to provide guidelines for evidence-based interventions tailored around career capital variables and aimed at assisting refugees in navigating their way to employment. This is one of the first attempts to empirically investigate the process and outcomes of labor market integration of refugees simultaneously addressing roles of personal resources and institutional factors.

Contact details: Sofija Pajic, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Left out or let in? Refugees’ diversity and inclusion in European workplaces


Refugees’ inclusion at work is critical for the individual, for employers, and for the receiving societies. Yet, refugees are often disadvantaged in working life or are being excluded from the labor market altogether. This disadvantage is particularly weighty for individuals who experience multiple forms of discrimination, in particular female refugees. Building on the concepts of inclusion and intersectionality, this project aims to identify facilitators and barriers of organizational inclusion when intersectionality is present. After a pilot study in The Netherlands, the long-term goal of this project is a larger study that includes other European countries and a comparative perspective. In the first step, a country-specific (The Netherlands) pilot study, analyzing 13 qualitative interviews with refugees and experts is being conducted. In the second step, the results and possibilities for future collaborations will be discussed in a workshop with a group of practitioners and leading scholars in the field. Interview material is currently analyzed by content-analytic methods using NVivo software. The workshop will be held at Tilburg University in February 2017. This is a qualitative pilot with a rather small sample and a focus on The Netherlands. Bigger samples, quantitative, and comparative approaches are planned for the future. The findings of this project are expected to indicate future research avenues and to illuminate implications for refugees, employers, and policy-makers. This project contextualizes the dimension ‘refugee status’ within the domain of diversity management and broadens the scope of existing human resource diversity research by emphasizing individual perspectives and experiences. In addition, this project follows the repeated calls to provide country-sensitive analysis in the field.

Contact details: Lena Knappert, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands.


Social and Labor Adaptation of Syrian Refugees in Europe and Canada: A Multidisciplinary and Cross-Cultural


In 2015, about a million refugees came to Europe. It is imperative to analyze their integration into work in host societies. To broaden existing knowledge a comparative study is necessary to understand refugees' work integration in host societies. The objective is to examine and compare challenges in integration of refugees into work in three diverse countries to provide politicians and employers with recommendations for successful integration. We examined and compared services in Spain, Germany and Canada, countries with a  different approach and policy in integration. In particular we focused on services that were geared toward assisting refugees in obtaining jobs and integrating into work. We conducted interviews using an adapted catalogue of the entrepreneurs association. Additionally we initiated a survey to test the MIDA-model, completed with questions about integration into work. Qualitative analysis following Mayring showed four types of sources for challenges: difficulties within the working environment, cultural distance, bureaucratic obstacles, and other hassles (e.g. lack of mobility). Organizational resources that facilitate integration are an open culture, concrete integration programs at work and social support. The importance of language competency and personal initiative were also highlighted. Additionally first results of the service comparison and the survey will be reported. Results suggest at society level the need for special requirement-oriented vocational trainings and at organizational level employers' sensibilization for tailored integration and social support at work. The study addresses a gap in the knowledge as it systematically compares barriers that refugees encounter in integrating into work.

Contact details: Rita Berger, Universitat Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.