05 Oct
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HumanRights360’s new research on the labour market integration of migrants and refugees

As part of the HumanRights360 Integration Service, which since 2018 implements programs for vulnerable groups, a qualitative and quantitative research was conducted on the attitudes of companies towards the employment of migrants and refugees. The research was conducted by the research agency Focus Bari in two phases. During the period 25-28 May 2021, small-scale qualitative research was carried out with individual interviews of employers and then, between 23 June and 26 July, quantitative research (CATI survey) was carried out through telephone interviews.

Just over 1 in 3 (36%) of the participated companies currently employs at least one refugee/migrant. Of the rest, 40% do not rule out such a possibility and only 24% of them states that there is no intention in hiring refugees/migrants. More than 3 in 5 companies, which are currently employing refugees/migrants, stated that these hirings occurred due to the lack of other candidates for specific jobs (62%). The personality of the candidate played a role in the selection process in almost 1 in 2 cases of companies, while 1 in 3 companies relied on the specialty and the ability to negotiate with the candidates they hired. It is important that 6 out of 10 companies attribute the non-recruitment of refugees/migrants to chance. About 1 in 6 companies answer that they have not hired refugees/migrants because they do not have the required qualifications for their business (18%) and/or prefer people of Greek origin (14%).

The positive aspects recognized by companies related to the employment of refugees/migrants are the willingness and flexibility, hard work and “humility”, the fact that they are often less selective in work, that “they work whenever and as much as they are asked” and they have a “will to succeed”. On the other hand, the difficulties discussed by representatives are many and concern the legal documents of the candidate, recruitment procedures and concerns that difficult and time-consuming procedures may be required.

When asked about intentions, it is important that half of businesses (49%) are positive in offering work to refugees/migrants, with only 17% of them being negative. When asked about actions that could attract companies to recruit refugees/migrants, 9 out of 10 companies answered that it would be easier if the administrative verification of documents was facilitated. 84% of them would like to be informed about the existence of candidates related to their needs, as well as the existence of a body that could mediate to find the appropriate staff.

The findings of the research led briefly to the following conclusions:

  • 36% of the companies stated that they employ refugees/migrants with main motive and reason the lack of other candidates to fill specific positions. For companies in industries where there is not a shortage, there is limited interest or information on hiring refugees/migrants. This does not lead on to negative attitudes from the beginning.
  • The decision to hire refugees and migrants is not considered an easy case technically/administratively. The demanding bureaucratic procedures often act as a deterrent to the recruitment of candidates, despite the benefits that are recognized and relate mainly to ethical reasons and the expected diligence/flexibility.
  • In the workplace environment the ability to communicate as much as possible is necessary, in order to ensure smooth cooperation and effective communication. The language itself is not a strict criterion but a complementary one.
  • There is a significant market share that is not negative in offering jobs to refugees/migrants but requires an organized promotion system.
  • Actions are needed to inform companies about the work force that exists in general, ideally in a way that incorporates each business’s needs, industry, activity.
  • As an important incentive for businesses, subsidized recruitment programs (e.g. through OAED – Human Resources Employment Organization) for refugees/migrants could be implemented.


The coordinator of HumanRights360’s Integration Service, Theo Bogeas, comments: “The research confirms our empirical observation that there is room for the integration of migrants and refugees in the Greek labour market, given that they do not compete for the same positions with the Greek population. Even in today’s challenging environment, as HumanRights360, we have managed to secure employment for more than 130 individuals. In any case, actions are needed to inform businesses, provide vocational guidance and the smooth adjustment of the people themselves, but also specific government initiatives so that migrants and refugees can be deployed and contribute to the economic development of the country”.

The research was conducted as part of the project “Ensuring integration of recognized refugees” supported by KAHANE Foundation.