More refugees in work can boost GDP growth, says The Adecco Group
To mark World Refugee Day, The Adecco Group, in collaboration with researchers of the Reallabor Asyl, a research cooperation by the Heidelberg University, the Heidelberg University of Education and the Centre for European Economic Research, has launched a white paper on ‘The labour market integration of refugees’. The research outlines new evidence showing that swifter workplace integration of refugees can reduce their fiscal impact, lead to long-term GDP growth, and correct labour market imbalances. 18 European employers share their best practices, showing how the tone from the top, network building, flexibility and problem solving are key in the integration process.
The white paper was launched today in Düsseldorf in response to the unprecedented political, economic and social pressure caused by the dramatic increase in asylum seekers arriving in Europe over the last few years. In 2015 alone, more than one million people sought asylum in EU or European Economic Area countries. Yet few find work.
The employment of refugees can help address labour force imbalances, which are currently estimated to lead to a loss of USD 10 trillion, or 10% of worldwide GDP by 2030. Yet it takes a refugee population between 15 and 19 years to reach the EU’s average employment level. This is despite the fact that 70% of first time asylum seekers in the EU are of working age, and most of them want to work. The greatest barriers to refugee employment are regulatory complexities, long waiting periods before work is legally possible, lack of evidence of their individual qualifications as well as language skills.
Showcasing the best practices introduced by 18 major European employers, including IKEA, SAP, Siemens and Starbucks, as well as The Adecco Group France, Germany and the Adecco Foundation Italy, the white paper provides ten robust recommendations for employers and five for governments, to facilitate more effective workplace integration of refugees. The commitment of the leadership, investment in training, the ability to build a network, flexibility and preparing to go the extra mile are among the recommendations for employers whereas governments should focus on accelerating the administrative part of the integration process.
At today’s event, The Adecco Group also signed up to the European Union Commission’s ‘Employers together for integration’ initiative and to the UNHCR #WithRefugees Coalition. The pledges express the Group’s commitment to continue its advocacy work on the critical issue of refugee workplace integration.
Alain Dehaze, The Adecco Group CEO, said, “Work has always been the main catalyst of societal and cultural integration. Through work, refugees gain an income and a future, as well as the opportunity to contribute to the economic systems they join. Accelerating their integration into the labour market is a win-win for all parties. As the world’s leading provider of workforce solutions, we are engaging with public and private players to facilitate this process. We also invite other leaders in Europe to embrace this commitment to power the prosperity of our economies by creating a more inclusive society.”
Monika Gonser, executive manager at Reallabor Asyl, commented, “The humanitarian, social and economic challenges posed by the current influx of asylum seekers are unprecedented, and therefore demanding. Many employers are demonstrating their sense of responsibility and have taken action. But more can be done. The 18 best practises collected in the white paper offer inspiration and ten actionable recommendations that can guide employers on the workplace integration journey.”
Betsy Lippman, chief of section for operational solutions and transitions at UNHCR, added, “Non-participation in the labour market is a lost opportunity both for refugees and host economies. It results in fewer social contributions and a loss of skills, motivation and social capital and, most importantly, dignity. Employers as well as society stand to benefit from refugees’ earlier access to the labour market, yet the road to employing refugees and asylum seekers is beset with barriers. Overcoming these challenges depends on the public and private sector coming together to find collective solutions to what is both a common challenge, and a collective opportunity.”
On this occasion the European Commissioner responsible for migration, home affairs and citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said, "Integrating refugees in our labour markets is a social and economic imperative for Europe. Failing to do so would represent a waste of human capital, both for the individuals concerned as well as for our economy and society. The private sector plays a key role in this. That is why I strongly welcome the support and commitment of The Adecco Group and urge other companies to follow suit.”
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