missed opp - Journal of Identity and Migration Studies...

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Journal of Identity and Migration Studies Volume 2, number 2, 2008 43 Missed Opportunity: The Underutilisation of Forced Migrants in the British Economy Dieu Donné HACK-POLAY Abstract. This paper looks at the work experiences of forced migrants in the country of origin and the host country. The article builds on interviews with forced migrants from three nationalities, Congo (DRC), Kosovo and Somalia to contrast their experience of work in the labour market in the United Kingdom. The research found that the place the migrants occupy in the host labour market is not often commensurate with their qualifications and professional baggage from the country of origin. The forced migrants often landed in menial, unskilled or semi-skilled jobs. Ethnicity or racial origin had little impact on the degree of success in the host labour market. However the article concludes that the professional demise of the forced migrants is not only a loss to them but the host economy might be missing out on valuable human resources, given the high skills that the migrants harbour. Keywords: forced migrants, refugee, host country, labour market, employment, economy, culture Introduction and background The debate surrounding forced migrants has been high on the British political, economic and social agenda in the past two decades. With the influx of thousands of people fleeing upheavals, questions have arisen and fed the debate about the capacity of the host countries to absorb them and the impact of such influx on the British economy. Many, particularly in the media and political milieus, have argued the detrimental effect on the economy and race relations. Some have suggested that refugees are a cost to the host nations labelling their contribution as miniscule which causes the migrants to be a burden. However, as research increases in this area, other authors have come to question the validity of these arguments (Block, 2002; Hack-Polay, 2000, 2006; Refugee Council, 2002).
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Dieu Donné HACK-POLAY JIMS - Volume 2, number 2, 2008 44 From the perspective of forced migrants, the world of work in the host country can be a tough jungle, often difficult to penetrate, to move through it and to survive it. Anthias & Yuval- Davis (1995:13) argue that the “structural disa dvantage of groups” in the labour market could be explained by several factors including, class, race, gender, education and training as well as the length of stay in Britain. All these factors are particularly important in connection with the study of ref ugees’ and migrants’ place in the labour market. Anthias & Yuval -Davis (1995) for instance argue that refugees and people from the colonies and the New Commonwealth have been predominantly used as cheap labour in Britain and Western Europe. Essentially, their position in the West is that they do not meet the criteria for being part of the national collectivity. The use of Africans and people from the former colonies in an inferior capacity in European labour markets has been sustained for many decades.
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missed opp - Journal of Identity and Migration Studies...

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