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Title: Labour market integration of refugee women: Gender-specific recommendations for integration measures and their effects on labour market integration governance

Gender
Governance
Integration
Migration
Immigration
Refugee
Bernhard Perchinig
ICMPD
Jimy Perumadan
University of Vienna

Abstract

Despite high employment aspirations, refugee women in Austria are not well integrated into the labour market. They lag behind their male counterparts as well as the female population in general (source). Integration measures play an important role in overcoming structural and individual challenges, however, they need to be tailored to the specific needs of refugee women. Based on the signalling theory of Spence (1973) and the theory of social choice of Arrows (1971), this paper argues that labour markets are embedded in institutional frameworks of host societies. Accordingly, local employers – particularly SMEs - tend to prefer signals such as educational certificates from local institutions and job experience in companies in the region to foreign credentials and employment experience abroad. The paper discusses whether it is more favourable for refugee women to obtain training or on the on-the-job experience with a local institution rather than undergoing the lengthy procedure of recognizing previous education, and discusses the consequences of this reasoning on labour market integration policies. The argument is empirically substantiated by qualitative data retrieved from 22 in-depth interviews with refugee women from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Iraq, Somalia and Syria. In addition, 32 expert interviews were conducted with representatives of integration projects, public administrations and labour market agencies in Austria, Germany and Norway. These interviews were conducted in the framework of the FARIM project (funded by AMIF and the Austrian Federal Chancellery). A thematic analysis of the primary data shows a range of gender-specific challenges that refugee women face and provides insights into labour market specific integration measures from the countries under study. Arrows, K. (1971). The Theory of Discrimination. Princeton University Press (Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs). Spence, M. (1973). Job Market Signaling. The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Vol. 87(3), S. 355-374. Key words: refugee women, labour market integration, integration measures, signalling theory, theory of social choice