The integration of refugees in local economies has become more challenging as the refugee crisis continues to have a significant impact on local labor markets. Businesses have asked for orderly, transparent, efficient and well-thought immigration programs and have demonstrated a willingness to participate in deep discussions with their governments on how to contribute.
At the high-level conference with the OECD and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on January 28, the BIAC delegation, headed by Secretary General Bernhard Welschke, called for advances in national level skills recognition, language training and targeted labor market programs to support the integration of beneficiaries of international protection and other forms of migrants into the local labor markets.
The OECD and UNHCR stressed not only the moral imperative but also the clear economic incentive to help the millions of refugees living in OECD countries to develop the skills they need to work productively and safely in the jobs of tomorrow.
“Far from a problem, refugees can and should be part of the solution to many of the challenges our societies confront,” said Gurría.
The OECD also released a report, Making Integration Work: Refugees and others in need of protection, which provides the main lessons from the experience of OECD countries in fostering the integration of refugees. The report highlights many good practices to tackle key barriers and support lasting integration of refugees and their children. It stresses the importance of early intervention, including providing access to language courses, employment programs and integration services as soon as possible, including for asylum seekers with high prospects to remain. It also stresses the need to help migrants settle where jobs are and not necessarily where housing is cheaper. The report also underlines the need to adapt integration programs to reflect migrants’ diversity in terms of skills and the specific needs of refugees.