The integration of people with a migratory heritage or background is a central issue for many European countries.
Since the Treaty of Amsterdam in 1997, migration has become a European competence. As focused by the European Commission in its last report on Migration and Integration (EC, Brussels, 2007), two processes are critical in integration policies in Europe: the elimination of inequalities especially in the labour market and the acquisition of competences.
For migrants, the length of time passed since their settlement in a host country is an essential factor for integration, as well as their level of education or qualification. As underlined by statistical analyses, the difference between immigrants and nationals is in no case intrinsic.
Changing perspectives of people with a migratory heritage by valuing their unique profile is a way to enhance equality of opportunity and to promote diversity in the labour market.
Two target groups are especially vulnerable: women and youth - to be specific, low-qualified women end qualified youths, both with migratory backgrounds. The difficulties of building a professional future for these two demographics present specific challenges which are insufficiently addressed.
The unemployment rate of migrant workers is much higher than that of national workers. The level of qualification is one criterion: the higher the diploma or qualification, the better chance of finding a job.
Nevertheless highly qualified youths are unemployed especially among migrant populations. Recent studies underline a discrepancy between the increasing number of qualified young migrants in Europe and persistent weakness of vocational guidance systems.
There is also a great discrepancy between men and women: female migrants are much more likely to be unemployed than male migrants no matter their level of qualification. Furthermore, migrant women are currently trying to access employment despite an employment rate lower than that of women nationals.