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The “Labor Market” Subproject

Principle Investigator: Prof. Dr. Helen Schwenken, University of Osnabrück, Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS)

Project Staff: Johanna Ullmann, M.A., University of Osnabrück, Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS)

Subject Areas: Sociology and Migration Studies

Access to the labor market for refugees has been facilitated in the framework of the Integration Law and Asylum Packages I and II since 2015; since then, society has widely differing opinions about the workforce potential of refugees. Several employment sectors have already hoped to find a “solution” for a shortage of skilled workers and demographic change, and have implemented respective funding programs. Female refugees are also a target group in the field of “labor market integration.” Currently, very little research has been done so far with reference to gender-specific processes of differentiation.

Studies in migration, labor (market), and educational research explore gender-specific inequalities in the field of labor market inclusion among immigrants. It is still unclear what kind of impacts differences of treatment have in which institutional constellations, and how they are manifested. Studies have shown that equal qualifications do not result in equal labor market opportunities. As such, vocational guidance and educational counseling might walk along with non-recognition of qualifications and gendered labor market segregation.

Against this background, the subproject "Is there a male bias in the early labor market integration of female refugees?" will explore processes of labor market integration among female refugees by investigating vocational counseling and advice regarding qualification and continuing education. Precisely because they set the course of strategic decisions for future professional development, the project investigates different measures that promote early labor market integration for refugees during or shortly after asylum procedures and explores them with respect to (implicit or explicit) gender knowledge and labor market related impacts.

The qualitative study investigates professional (re)orientation, qualification, and employment services and programs for refugees in Lower Saxony and focuses on two levels of analysis:

  • Counseling practices, through interviews with staff members and managers of labor market integration projects;
  • The experiences of vocational (re)orientation, qualification, and job placement through conversations with female refugee clients.

The subproject provides a scientific contribution to the understanding of the differential inclusion of labor market access of refugees. The results have a practical use, examining the extent of discrimination by supplying model cases and, if possible, offering suggestions for political countermeasures.


Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS)
University of Osnabrück
Neuer Graben 19/21
49074 Osnabrück
Phone: +49 541 969 4619