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Skills on the Move - Migrants in the Survey of Adult Skills


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Migration has been at the centre of political debate across the OECD in recent years. Drawing on data from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC), this report provides new evidence on differences in migrants’ characteristics and contexts and considers how these relate to the skills migrants possess. It also examines the relationship between migrants’ skills and their labour and non-labour market outcomes in host countries. Finally, it sheds new light on how migrants’ skills are developed, used and valued in host country labour markets and societies. Results and lessons gleaned from analysis highlight the way forward for future research on this topic.

The report represents an invaluable resource for policy makers across different sectors as they design and implement strategies aimed at promoting the long-term integration of foreign-born populations in the economic and social life of their countries. The analyses presented allow us to identify the skill composition of foreign-born populations, the labour market and broader social outcomes associated with such skills, and the factors that can promote skill acquisition and skill use.

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Skills on the Move - Migrants in the Survey of Adult Skills

  1. 1. SKILLS ON THE MOVE Andreas Schleicher – OECD Director for Education and Skills 10 November 2018 Migrants in the Survey of Adult Skills
  2. 2.  The public debate on immigration is sometimes based on a misleading view of migrants as a homogenous group of low skilled individuals, with little chance of integrating  Typically, skills are proxied by the level of education attained  imperfect proxy, especially for migrants  New information from the OECD Survey of Adult Skills allows an in-depth analysis of the skills of migrants, their use and development in the host countries.  This information is particularly valuable in the policy context:  effective integration policies must build upon migrants’ existing skills and experiences in order to help them recognise, develop, and use their skills in a tailored and individualised fashion PIAAC: a tool to study migrants’ skills
  3. 3. The share of migrants varies widely across countries 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Foreign-born % Proportion of foreign-born among the 16-65 years old population The share of migrants in the population is very small (less than 3%) in Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Turkey.
  4. 4. On average, migrants have lower skills proficiency than natives Migrants are less proficient in literacy, numeracy and problem solving than native-born adults in all participating countries, except for Chile Wide cross-country differences are driven by differences in the composition of the migrant populations between countries. Literacy proficiency, by place of birth 200 220 240 260 280 300 320 Foreign-born Native-born score points
  5. 5. Migrants are more likely to have very low levels of literacy skills… 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Foreign-born Native-born % Adults with very low literacy proficiency (Level 1 or below), by place of birth
  6. 6. … but many migrants have high levels of skills, although they are less likely than natives to have high skills Shares of persons reaching levels 4 and 5 in literacy proficiency, by place of birth 0 5 10 15 20 25 Foreign-born Native-born %
  7. 7. Migrants are a very heterogeneous group Migrant’ skills proficiency vary greatly both within and across countries: they depend strongly on the place where they acquired their qualifications, the age of arrival in the host country, the duration of stay and the languages they speak Literacy proficiency of migrants, by personal characteristics Need for countries to adopt a tailor-made approach in terms of skills, training and integration programmes. 180 200 220 240 260 280 300 All foreign-born Native-born average Foreign-born who are native speakers in the host-country language score points
  8. 8. Migrant educational levels play a crucial role in shaping skills Levels of literacy proficiency, by place of birth and education level Whatever the education levels, migrants have lower proficiency than native-borns Low educated migrants are particulary at risk of having very low proficiency.
  9. 9. Origin of migrants: example of EU migrants 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 Share of EU migrants (%) % Migrants from EU countries have similar skills than native-borns Within the EU, countries face very different situations
  10. 10. Migrant age at arrival matters 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Share of immigrants who arrived before age 6 (%) % The share of migrants who arrived before 6 is actually related to whether migrants come as a family or not. All countries where this share is higher than 20% are countries in which there are only few migrants
  11. 11. • Gaps in literacy skills between migrants and natives are on average 25 points… … but are down to only 13 points if migrants are native speakers! • Language proximity between the migrant’s mother tongue and the host country language also matters • Language penalty is related to the age at arrival, but not to the length of stay in the host country Language matters!
  12. 12. Migrants and host country langage 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Share of immigrants who speak the host country language (%) %
  13. 13. Literacy gaps between natives and migrants -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 Migrant gap Migrant gap adjusted for age, education and gender Migrant gap adjusted for age, education, gender and languageScore-point difference
  14. 14. Language distance in PIAAC participating countries 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 Language distance Average language distance Interquantile range (75th minus 25th percentile)
  15. 15. • Adult training particularly important for migrants • Differences in participation rates within- countries are small. What matters are between-country differences • Migrants do express higher demand for training, and face higher barriers => higher unmet demand Migrants and lifelong learning
  16. 16. Rates of participation in lifelong learning 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Participation rate (in %) Foreign-born Native-born Light grey bars/diamonds indicate countries for which the unadjusted difference in participation rates between natives and migrants is not statistically significant
  17. 17. Barriers to participation 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Too expensive No employer support Too busy at work Inconvenient schedule Family responsibility Percentage Foreign-born Native-born
  18. 18. Labour market outcomes of migrants tend to lag behind those of the native- born Migrants earn significantly less than natives Median hourly earnings Migrants are more often unemployed or inactive, and those who are in employment tend to have lower returns to education – in terms of earnings – than their native-born peers 0 5 10 15 20 25 USD Natives Migrants educated at destination Migrants with foreign qualification
  19. 19. Migrants and the use of reading skills at work Differences between foreign- and native-born adults in the use of reading skills at work -100 -80 -60 -40 -20 0 20 40 60 80 100 Further control for occupation Unadjusted gap Adjusted gap differencesin%ofa sttanarddeviation
  20. 20. Migrants and low skilled occupation: the importance of education location Share of workers in low skilled occupations 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 % Migrants educated at destination Migrants with foreign qualification Natives
  21. 21. Reported health by immigrant status 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 % Natives Migrants
  22. 22. Migrants and Trust 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 % Natives Migrants
  23. 23. A large part of the difference in the returns to education reflects different patterns in occupational placement: – Migrants are concentrated in jobs that are associated with a lower socio- economic status in comparison with natives. Yet, migrants are often paid less than the native-born even when operating in similar roles – This is largely (but not entirely) explained by differences in the skills held and language spoken by migrants and natives, as well as by the country where their education was acquired. Skills play an important role in explaining labour market outcomes gaps between migrants and natives These results stress the key role played by language proficiency and skills as drivers of the labour market performance of migrants