This paper draws on data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) and from a survey of 400 refugees in Britain in order to present an up to data comparison of the labour market experiences of minority ethnic groups and refugees. It will show that refugees experience lower rates of employment than their ethnic minority counterparts and that those refugees in employment are more likely to be in temporary and part-time work with poorer terms and conditions of employment and with lower wages. The reasons why refugees experience greater disadvantage in the labour market than others include structural barriers due to policies such as dispersal that can leave refugees isolated from social and community networks that provide information and advice and informal routes into employment but also leave refugees in areas with higher levels of unemployment. Migration patterns are also influential with refugees for the most part arriving more recently in Britain than people from minority ethnic groups. Refugees are also increasingly reliant on agents and smugglers to plan their route and destination and so asylum seekers can find themselves in countries where they have no social networks. Social networks and community organisations play an important role in the early stages of settlement. Finally, the circumstances of exile, attitudes to the country of origin and the insecurity of having temporary status in Britain all prevent economic activity.
Sociological Research Online – SAGE
Published: May 1, 2004
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