Inclusion in the Labor Market: Building a Sustainable Future

“Being such a controversial issue, immigration has been a topic of debate for quite some time. In a series of articles, I would like to bring into the light the economic and humanitarian benefits of the inclusion of immigrants and refugees in the labor markets.”

This is the first article in a series on inclusion in the labor market written by our researcher Allie Murphy.

With the number of refugees and asylum seekers rising each year, the current immigration situation is one that cannot be ignored. In fact, many countries are frantically finding ways to alleviate the said issue in the short-term, when the real solution at hand will require hard work and long-term dedication. Beyond finding places of shelter, governments need to organize and redirect their attitudes towards an empowering system that not only welcomes refugees, but encourages them to become productive members of society.

Local populations and large corporations traditionally lean towards pessimistic views of refugees, arguing they steal jobs and alter the country’s culture. Often, these attitudes are formed based on inaccurate facts and are mostly held by those who feel threatened or displaced by immigrants. These feelings that fuel anti-immigration are often put into action either through deliberate discrimination or internalized hatred, which targets and labels refugees as unworthy and unwelcome. 

Negative connotations of refugees are not only held by citizens, but also populist politicians such as the Italian prime minister, Matteo Salvini. Known for sharing anti-migrant pacts involving support towards intense border control and unfair treatment towards asylum seekers, his anti-immigrant rhetoric has been related to increased number of hate crimes, justifying and encouraging xenophobic mindsets to Italy’s citizens. Recently, Salvini has been approached by the UN in regard to his decree advocating sanctions on non-profit organizations trying to rescue migrants in danger. Planning on charging boats up to €5,500 per rescued refugee, this is one of the many actions taken by far-right populists to ensure exclusion amongst their people. 

Although it has been reported that immigration numbers have fallen since nearly a million came to Europe in 2014, concerns regarding the economy and corruption still remain. What needs to be brought into the light are the numerous benefits immigrants bring, which could help resolve the current standing problems. Benefits such as lower unemployment, higher employee retention, diversification and wider labor pools have all been proven to not only boost countries economies, but also create a long-term solution to a world wide crisis. These are only some of the successful outcomes that are created from including immigrants and refugees in the workforce. In Germany, these outcomes were replicated when they found a yearly GDP growth of 0.2% since 2011, increased labor market participation and increased consumer pools for German producers. If countries switch their mindset about immigration, they would soon realize including immigrants in their workforces would enhance economic business, while also solving the humanitarian crisis. We here at Project Phoenix like to contribute to the progression of inclusion by aiding refugees to highlight their own talents and skills, allowing them to reach their full potential into becoming a productive member of society.  Being a tool to fight global poverty, boosting the economy and diversifying the workforce, immigration should be seen as a positive and be utilized in a way to promote a sustainable future in Europe.