Inclusion in the Labor Market: Entrepreneurship Enterprise

” Struggling with the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, the EU had to change its strategy and come up with more sustainable ways to fight unemployment and get the economy back on track. “

This is the third and final article in a series on inclusion in the labor market written by our researcher Allie Murphy. Read her first article here, and her second one here

Recently, the European Commission released their 2020 strategy, including an Entrepreneurship Action Plan (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX:52012DC0795) encouraging the creation of new businesses as a way to boost the economy and create new jobs. 

Within this plan, the Commission has pledged to develop entrepreneurial education programs, create a supportive entrepreneurial environment and inspire a culture of entrepreneurship to younger generations. This action plan even mentions the importance of the integration of third country nationals. 

It states, “failure to release the potential of third-party nationals in the EU would represent a massive waste of resources. There is a clear risk that the cost of non-integration will turn out to be higher than the cost of investment in integration policies”. 

While this plan outlines sustainable policy priorities for the integration of refugees and migrants, the fine print of the document is a little contradictory. Saying they will provide resources and incentives for Member States to implement their plan, the Commission ultimately leaves the decision to the Member States whether they want to follow the action plan or not. This is a dangerous situation because we know that Member States with far-right governments may choose to opt out of this inclusive opportunity, further dividing consensus within the EU. 

What the Commission should have highlighted was how refugees make resilient and successful small business owners and the positive outcomes businesses experience since hiring them. This is a much more convincing argument for anti-immigration countries. 

In a 2015 business research study (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/406760/bis-15-153-impacts-of-migrant-workers-on-uk-business.pdf) they interviewed 80 business owners in the UK who employ high percentages of migrants. What they found were promising and positive impacts. The primary one being that refugees provided valuable complementary skills, innovative ideas and knowledge-sharing of which improved the businesses’ productivity and performance.

One manager stated, “There are more migrants with higher qualifications than UK applicants… If a machine goes down they’re able to fix it straight away, so that means less down time”. 

The diversity refugees bring to businesses should be utilized as a competitive advantage. Many businesses explained how having multiple cultures represented in the work environment has helped with creating new product lines, entering global markets and improving efficiency. 

Another manager explained how “different cultures have different ways of working and have other attitudes… They bring different thoughts and ideas to the table and that broader culture helps us shape our campaigns”. 

However, these positive impacts only come with effective integration. While the EU’s action plan has innovated ways for integration, they much achieve their goals throughout Europe if the want to see a lasting, sustainable impact across the region. 

Many economists support the idea that refugees make excellent entrepreneurs and employees. By taking the risk of coming to a new country and culture, their experience directly relates to starting new businesses. Not only that, in a U.S. study (https://www.tent.org/resources/good-retention-strong-recruitment/), they found that 73% of surveyed companies had higher retention rates for refugees than for other employees and the turnover rate for refugees were 7-15% lower than for the overall workforce. Not only does this save the company money, but it suggests that refugees are more loyal to their jobs because they appreciate the opportunities given to them. 

Given this information, inclusion in the labor market not only brings positive impact for Europe’s economy but also for the business world. That is why we here at Project Phoenix believe in providing the resources for refugees to start their own businesses. By ensuring refugees have the right opportunities lined up for a job, we know it will have a promising impact for that company and on the rest of their life. 

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