Shifting Focus: Policies to Support the Labor Market Integration of New Immigrants in France
Washington, DC : Migration Policy Institute
In France, immigrants are more likely to be unemployed or in low-skilled work than their native-born peers. Immigrants face a number of challenges to entering and advancing in the French labor market, including discrimination, foreign qualification recognition, and limited professional networks. Moreover, the French labor market is structurally unfavorable to new entries, whether migrants or native-born youth, and foreign nationals from outside the European Union (EU) are barred from many public- and private-sector jobs. Despite these obstacles, the government has not made a policy priority of getting newcomers into jobs. Integration policy in France has traditionally come in the form of urban policy, targeting disadvantaged neighborhoods that often happen to have a large number of immigrants and their children rather than immigrants themselves. While there have been significant reforms to integration policy since 2000, the focus of these reforms has been cultural, not socioeconomic, integration. Many features of France's robust workforce development system are available to immigrants upon arrival, including use of the public employment service that provides job search assistance and career counseling, but immigrants are excluded from the more prestigious elements like vocational training. This report examines how well mainstream employment policies, in combination with recent integration policy reforms—particularly the introduction of a new category, "newly arrived migrants"—are supporting migrants' integration into the labor market and advancement into middle-skilled jobs. The report provides an overview of immigrants' progress in the French labor market and analyzes recent French immigration policy and the relevant aspects of employment policy, language and vocational training, and antidiscrimination programs. Finally, the report proposes some policy recommendations.