Although the annual gross domestic product (GDP) of European Union countries has continued to grow since 2013 (World Bank, 2020), growth tends to be unevenly distributed. Refugees represent one of the most vulnerable groups in the labor market. On average it takes about 20 years of living in their new home country for refugees to achieve an employment rate similar to that of natives (OECD, 2016):

  • In the first 5 years, only 25% of refugees are employed.
  • After 10 years, 56% are employed, still a much lower employment rate than natives.

Refugees’ low level of education and poor knowledge of the local language are the main reasons affecting the employment rate. Results suggest that an intermediate level of the host country’s language could be linked to significant employment gains (OECD, 2016).

Statistics show that nearly 60% of employed refugees in the EU who hold a university degree are overqualified for their jobs (OECD, 2016). One of the main reasons is the inability of governments and companies to recognize foreign qualifications due to a lack of documentation (OECD, 2016).



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