Labour market obstacles for foreign-born people

Due to Russia’s war on Ukraine, a significant number of Ukrainians have already sought temporary protection in the EU. This provides them with a residence permit and access to the labour market in the EU Member States. Many of these people will seek work to support themselves, but recent data (2021) from the Labour Force Survey highlights the obstacles faced by foreign-born people when it comes to getting a suitable job in their current host country.

In general, foreign-born women were more likely to report encountering obstacles to get a suitable job than men. A fifth of women born in another EU country (20.3 %) encountered obstacles, compared with little over a tenth of men (13.2 %). Over a third of women born in non-EU countries with a low or medium Human Development Index (HDI) reported obstacles, compared with under a third of men (35.7 % compared with 31.1 %), while 27.3 % of women from non-EU countries with a high or very high HDI reported obstacles compared with 20.9 % of men.

The main obstacle most commonly reported was a lack of language skills in the host country language(s). This was especially the case for people born outside the EU in countries with a low or medium HDI (9.7 % of men and 10.5 % of women).

The only main obstacle for which the share of reporting men was greater than women was for ‘restricted right to work because of citizenship or residence permit’. For those from non-EU countries with a low or medium HDI, the share of men was 3.3 % compared with 2.8 % of women. For those from non-EU countries with a high or very high HDI, the shares were 2.1 % for men and 1.6 % for women.

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Methodological note:

  • A suitable job is defined as a job that corresponds to a person’s educational attainment level, not the field of education or the previous work experience.
  • The denominator for the figures in this article is the number of foreign-born people having already worked or looked for a job in their current host count.