Finding your way into employment against all odds? Successful job search of refugees in Austria

Roland Verwiebe (Corresponding author), Bernhard Kittel, Fanny Dellinger, Christina Liebhart, David Schiestl, Raimund Haindorfer, Bernd Liedl

Publications: Contribution to journalArticlePeer Reviewed


Labour market entry poses enormous challenges for recently arrived refugees, ranging from language barriers, devaluation of human capital, unfamiliarity with customs of the job search process to outright discrimination. How can refugees overcome these challenges and quickly enter gainful employment? In this paper, we draw on interviews with 26 male and female refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran, conducted in 2017 and 2018, who came to Austria in 2015 and 2014 and who have successfully entered employment. We depict refugees' own perspectives on and strategies for fast job entry and integration. Personal agency and a proactive approach of seeking and seizing opportunities are key for overcoming initial barriers and entering upon positive integration pathways. At the same time, refugees' personal agency is essential for establishing social ties to the host society, which also play a crucial role in early labour market integration. Finally, institutions of the Austrian labour market (the 'apprenticeship'-system) interact with refugees' agency in most intricate ways, both setting up nearly insurmountable barriers but also providing specific opportunities for refugees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1401-1418
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number9
Early online date5 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

Austrian Fields of Science 2012

  • 504021 Migration research
  • 504002 Sociology of work
  • 504030 Economic sociology


  • agency
  • Austria
  • human capital
  • job search
  • Refugees
  • social capital

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