The Role of Labour Market Intermediaries for Young Migrants' Labour Mobility in Europe

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
TW2.1.01 (Tower Two)
Christer Hyggen, NOVA, Oslo, Norway
Renate Ortlieb, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
Hans Christian Sandlie, NOVA, Oslo, Norway
Silvana Weiss, University of Graz, Graz, Austria
The Europe 2020 strategy and Youth on the Move initiative have sought to encourage labour mobility as a mechanism for ensuring more efficient allocation of resources across the EU, to improve intra-EU skills gaps and skills shortages, and contribute to better labour market matching. A phenomenon that has to be better understood in this regard are labour market intermediaries, such as recruitment agencies or temporary employment agencies, and their impact on employment outcomes of migrant workers. Increasing activities of transnational temporary staffing agencies point to the fact that they are becoming important players in mediating intra-EU mobility. In this paper, we aim to identify and describe how intermediaries can facilitate movement of young workers within the EU. We investigate the significance intermediaries have in recruiting and retaining young migrants and cross-border commuters and the impact intermediaries have on working conditions and contracts for these young labour migrants. 

In the analysis, we apply a comparative design by using the cases of Norway and Austria. Both countries have highly regulated labour markets with comparatively high wages and working conditions for their non-migrant working population. To capture different perspectives we apply qualitative data from interviews with young migrants, employers, intermediaries and policy makers. Thereby we focus on the situation of young Swedish migrants working in Norway and young migrants from EU8-countries[1] working in Austria. Our analyses concentrate on three different industries: tourism, care sector, and technical industry. According to official statistics, these three industries are especially relevant for young labour migrants and include both high and low-skilled male and female migrants.

Preliminary results indicate that intermediaries play a major role in connecting employers with young employees from abroad. Access strategies of intermediaries to the young workers differ between industries. In general, online social networks are especially successful to reach young workers. Because personal recommendation is also important to reduce uncertainties related to the matching process, intermediary companies often rely on an anchor person or organisation in the migrants’ country of origin. The international partners help to find trustful, motivated and qualified employees. With respect to working conditions intermediaries are powerful to act in both directions: on the one hand, some of them use their advantage in knowledge to exploit young migrants. On the other hand, many intermediaries protect their clients and ensure good contract and working conditions to the young migrants.

Subsequent analysis will illuminate the strategies of labour market intermediaries in further detail and examine their effect on the working conditions of young migrants. Thereby the three different industries and the two examined receiving countries will be taken into account.

The overall aim of the paper is to enhance knowledge about labour market intermediaries in an international context, which up to now is very limited. Intermediaries might be of special importance to job search/recruitment and matching processes which involve young persons, since labour-related social networks of younger persons may be less developed as compared to experienced workers.

[1] EU8-countries joined the EU in 2004: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Since May 2011 migrants from these countries have been free to move and work in Austria.