Making It in the Land of Opportunities. Labor Market Integration of Skilled Refugees in New York City Area.

Friday, 20 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Karolina LUKASIEWICZ, New York University, USA
Tanzilya OREN, Fordham University, USA
Saumya TRIPATHI, Social Worker, India
Despite the increased public interest in the situation of refugees, little is known about how skilled refugees integrate in the labor market and how this process is affected by social policies. In the United States, refugees are eligible to participate in federally funded programs which aim “to achieve economic self-sufficiency as quickly as possible after arrival in the United States” (The Refugee Act of 1980). Tools such as: case management, employment services, language trainings, cultural orientation classes and direct cash allowances are used to reach this goal. What is known is that although the overall median employment rate among refugees is higher than among the native population (Capps, Newland, Fix, McHugh, 2015), the self-sufficiency paradigm itself is criticized for forcing refugees to take entry level jobs at the bottom of the labor market structure without offering time to learn the English language and increase long term opportunities (Brick, Cushing-Savvi, Elshafie, Krill, McGlynn Scanlon, Stone, 2010). Using the case of the New York City area, this presentation aims to explore the main opportunities and obstacles that skilled refugees face in their attempts to reconstruct their labor market position. It also aims to answer how federally funded programs and other interventions delivered by non-profit organizations affect the integration of skilled refugees into the labor market. The presentation is based on 20 in-depth interviews (IDI) with refugees, 10 IDI with case workers and participant observations in three non-profit organizations assisting refugees. Refugees were sampled based on their legal status, income, residing in the NYC area and receiving assistance. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and Dedoose software was used for data analysis. Thematic analysis using inductive approach was next utilized. The principle investigator analyzed the data, developed Memos and used peer debriefing to further ensure the rigor of the study.