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Over qualification as an indicator of labour market integration of highly educated immigrants: findings from the Labour Force Survey in Belgium

Open Panel

Abstract

The concepts of ''overqualification'', ''vertical job mismatch'' or ''underusage'' as indicators of labor market integration raise the question to what extent our integration instrumentation is capable to valorise the ''human capital'' that immigrants can bring to the table. In this article we will have a look at ''the risk of overqualification'' of highly educated immigrants in a comparative perspective to the native Belgians, based on the Labour Force Survey (2007 & 2008). The OECD uses the objective (rather than the subjective or static) measuring method and compares the level of education according to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) to the International Standard Classification of Occupations (ISCO). This measuring technique uses an external job expert (outside of the employee) to decide whether the area of education (in case of horizontal mismatch) and the level of education (in case of vertical mismatch) fits the job. We will use these method which is important for the international comparability of the results. Differences in overqualification reflect the ''opportunity structure'' of the labor market. Some countries that score well on the employment rate of immigrants, scoring poorly on qualification (such as Italy) and some countries that score poorly on the employment rate of immigrants, score better on qualification (eg Belgium) (OECD, 2007) The structure of the labor market, migration regime, the welfare regime and integration regime seems to influence the entry of immigrant labor and their labor market position. The central research question is whether people of different nationalities and/or length of stay are working according to a level of profession that is compatible to their level of education. From the hierarchical logistic regression models it appears that the most important determining factors for overqualification are the level of education, the area of education, the sector of employment and the professional statute. We situate these findings within a theoretical perspective that matches at the one hand the individual (human capital theory and relatives) and that structural perspective (segmentation theory and relatives). But, overqualification is more than just a matter of the ''right choice’ of study area or labour segment, but it is also linked to other variables, such as origin, length of stay and sex.