LAB Meeting Austria 2015
For the second Local Advisory Board (LAB) meeting in Austria we invited four labour market experts to discuss results of the STYLE project (Task 6.2). At the beginning, we presented the project framework and the most important results of the study that were then discussed with the stakeholders step by step.
During the discussion the importance of young EU8 migrants* for the Austrian labour market was underlined. In some industries, e.g. in the tourism or the 24-hours care sector, Austrian employers are reliant on migrants from Hungary or Slovakia. Young migrants from EU8 countries tend to work in positions with poor working conditions, but they still are attracted by higher wages compared to their countries of origin. Labour market intermediaries play an important role in providing information for employers and jobseekers and in determining working conditions of young migrants. However, public employment centres primarily focus on the employment of people living in Austria and are not so much concerned about unemployment rates in bordering countries.
According to the LAB members, a main barrier between employers and migrants is the lack of German language skills. In most Austrian companies speaking German is a requirement to get a job – only in some large international firms English skills are sufficient. Based on the results of the study and the discussion at the meeting policy recommendations will be formulated. * EU8-countries: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia)
Main issues of debate
Importance of young EU8 migrants for the Austrian job market
In the opinion of the LAB members the recruitment and the integration of (young) migrants in the Austrian labour market is one of the most important topics of the next few years. They confirmed that young migrants from EU8 countries play a central role for the Austrian labour market. In particular, in the tourism and the 24-hours care sector Austrian employers are reliant on migrants from Hungary or Slovakia.
Rationales for labour migration – employers’ and migrants’ perspectives
The LAB members claim that an evident labour shortage motivates many Austrian employers to recruit and employ young migrants from EU8 countries as it is expressed by the following quotation of a LAB member: “Austrian hotels are not so much concerned about getting enough guests, but they really are worried about getting enough staff to be able to provide their services.”
Young EU8 migrants search jobs in Austria because of better job opportunities: wages are considerably higher compared to their countries of origin and they expect to have better career opportunities.
Working conditions and contract forms of young EU8 migrants
Young migrants from EU8 countries tend to work in positions with poor working conditions. They are more willing than Austrians to work in the evenings, nights or on weekends. Furthermore, many EU8 migrants do seasonal work and only have temporary contracts. LAB members confirm that migrants are less concerned about short-term or seasonal employment because they often use the break between two jobs to stay in their home countries.
Role of intermediaries regarding recruitment/job search and working conditions
In recent years, the importance of labour market intermediaries has been continually rising. Agencies offering personnel leasing or temporary jobs are considered to be important intermediaries between employers and the Austrian Public Employment Services. They offer a number of jobs to unemployed people and provide flexible workforce to large Austrian companies with production peaks.
However, they usually provide only temporary employment. Public employment centres primarily focus on the employment of people living in Austria and are not so much concerned about unemployment rates in bordering countries. However, the Public Employment Services in Graz provides additional services and counselling specifically for migrants living in Austria.
Required skills and training opportunities
In most Austrian companies speaking German is a requirement to get a job – only in large international firms English skills are sufficient. Even for jobs that require a low skill level, such as cleaning, now basic German skills are required, because of the professionalisation in many industries. Poor German skills often force higher-skilled migrants to relatively unskilled and low-paid jobs.
Based on the results of the study and the discussion at the LAB meeting, we will develop and formulate policy recommendations.
University of Graz Renate Ortlieb and Silvana Weiss
Wirtschaftskammer Steiermark (WKO; Styrian Economic Chambers) Ewald Verhounig and Gerhard Kienzl
Arbeitsmarktservice Steiermark (AMS; Styrian Public Employment Service) Andrea Haring and Christoph Resler
The first Austrian LAB meeting was reported here: https://www.style-research.eu/2015/01/lab-meeting-at-the-university-of-graz-austria/