Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Mental Borders. Job Chances for highly qualified migrants


A resource, a treasure which promises tremendous dividends but has yet to be tapped: the knowledge of highly qualified migrants. Many countries throughout the world are competing for the best and brightest, but those who choose to leave their home countries often land in jobs which match neither their capabilities nor their qualifications. This situation poses absolutely no benefit to the migrants or the receiving countries. Prof. Anja Weiss of the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE) is seeking to explicate this seemingly contradictory state of affairs.

A book has just been published outlining the results from a recently concluded international, VW Foundation-supported study group consisting of researchers from Germany and Canada. The publication, Work in Transition, offers a comparison of labor market entry in Germany, Canada and Turkey. The study group interpreted and analyzed more than 200 interviews with well-educated and well-trained immigrants, and the results have made clear just how important the recognition and approval of cultural capital is. The study also shows how people who have been denied entry into the labor market come up against a dead end.

An asylum seeker reports: “I went to the public health authority and told them: ‘In Iraq, I worked as a senior physician and now I’m recognized in Germany as a medical doctor.’ Then the bureaucrat said: ‘No, if anything you can work as a maid, but you can’t work here as a doctor.’” From this and other similar statements, the authors have concluded that “objective” reasons are not always the deciding factors in determining whether academic credentials can be put to good use in the labor market. More decisive is the way in which individuals are able to negotiate with employers and government agencies.

Weiss et al. explain that these processes generally vary from country to country. In some vocational fields, a certain degree of cross-national similarities can be observed. Managers in Canada, Germany and Turkey, for example, pursue above all else the requisite language skills for doing business in their adopted countries. Physicians are more occupied with overcoming official, bureaucratic barriers to entry. Success stories can be observed in both occupational groups, and amongst migrants who are employed in international, English-speaking fields (for example, in the natural sciences).

“Trajectories into the labor market are dependent on several different dimensions. The job search is intertwined with family life,” argues Weiss. “And legal constraints also impact on both domains.” Those highly qualified individuals who are living without documents in Germany can only escape illegality through marriage. Some interview partners have refused to marry for that very reason. Women with temporary work visas and thus temporary statuses do not want to bring children into the world.

The majority of those with professional degrees who move to Germany and Turkey are not treated by law as highly qualified but are instead handled like refugees, the undocumented, spouses or – in the best case – as students. Legal exceptions to the regulations governing foreigners within the countries are rarely applied in practice. Long-term unemployment or underemployment must also be interpreted against the backdrop of legal restrictions to employment or an outright prohibition to work.

In Germany and Turkey, some highly qualified migrants experience open racism. On a commuter train, one interview partner, a lawyer, was told that being from Brazil she must be a prostitute. One computer scientist of African descent was confounded when a potential employer exclaimed at the beginning of a job interview: “But you’re black!” Experiences such as these contribute to the fact that some foreign professionals are channeled into positions geared towards foreign clients. Their international experience is particularly valued in these “ethnic” occupational fields. The problem, however, is that these fields are not as highly paid and do not offer many opportunities for career advancement.

According to the authors, a basic understanding of the complexity of labor market integration has evaded the respective employment offices. In Germany, they have largely offered foreign professionals a kind of occupational retraining but no academic courses of study. This has resulted in a higher rate of unemployment among ethnic German resettlers than among other groups with higher education. With this in mind, the University of Duisburg-Essen has put together a project called ProSALAMANDER. The project offers a tailor-made German program of study for migrant professionals who were not been able to find adequate employment based on their foreign university degrees. That way, an industrial engineer will not have to work behind a cash register but can instead resume the leadership position she held before, for example, she fell in love with a German and moved to Germany.

Event Information:
Anja Weiss, who authored the book together with Arnd Michael Nohl, Karin Schittenhelm and Oliver Schmidtke, will present the new publication, Work in Transition. Cultural Capital and Highly Skilled Migrants, at 5 p.m. on February 11 at the UDE Institute of Sociology on the Duisburg campus.

Further Information:
Prof. Dr. Anja Weiss, Tel. 0049-176/96879051,

Weitere Informationen:

Beate Kostka | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Illinois researchers researchers find tweeting in cities lower than expected
21.02.2018 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Polluted air may pollute our morality
08.02.2018 | Association for Psychological Science

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Modular safety concept increases flexibility in plant conversion

22.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

New interactive map shows climate change everywhere in world

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data

22.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>