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This week a door finally opened that I had been trying to open for so long.


The odds were totally stacked against me. There seemed to be nothing working in my favour, yet I kept pressing on. What makes some people give up whilst others hold on until the prize is won? How do you not give up when everything inside you to tells you to? When it seems your investment is yielding no returns. When your dreams seem a far stretch. The days leading up to my breakthrough were indeed the toughest.

Everything that could have gone wrong did, and then of course there were the dissenting voices. Finding your way into employment against all odds? Employment rates of refugees in selected European countries depending on length of stay. CSV Display Table. However, there are a few loopholes. Most importantly, refugees below the age of 25 were allowed to take up an apprenticeship if no domestic applicants are available until September when the newly elected government stopped this programme.

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Work permits can be granted on a case-by-case basis for seasonal employment. Refugees are also allowed to become self-employed, always provided that they comply with the regulations in place for self-employment. The Austrian Public Employment Service AMS accounted for 33, refugees with granted asylum status searching for employment in Austria in August of ; of those were registered as looking for an apprenticeship.

The issue of forced migration is highly relevant in political terms and has dominated public discourse in many European countries over the past years. In barely any other social issue have Austrian opinions been so polarized. Huge initiatives to improve refugee integration were in opposition to the rejection of an open pluralistic society on the part of an increasingly influential right-wing movement.

The present study applied problem-centred interviews as a research tool Witzel Witzel, Andreas. The sample contained refugees aged 18—40 from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq and Iran. These nationalities make up the vast majority of the refugee population in Austria cf. Section 3.

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The interviews were carried out from July to January Main interview language was German, English was used in a few cases in which the interviewee preferred so. Targeted case selection was applied as a sampling strategy, starting off from contacts with various NGOs, volunteer and refugee organisations in Vienna and other Austrian cities.

Our main objective was to interview male and female refugees who were already in gainful employment according to the ILO-definition at least 1 h of paid work in the reference week and who had come to Austria no earlier than In addition, we took care to adequately represent the most important nationality groups, in particular, Syrians and Afghans. The sample contained more men than women see Appendix , which corresponds with the composition of refugee populations on the Austrian labour market.

The analysis of text material in the present study consisted in a multiple-step procedure to approximate a deepening analysis of the entirety of individual cases and to facilitate cross-case comparisons. London : Sage. Qualitative Analysis. Practice and Innovation. London : Routledge. The steps of assessment were the following: 1 Completed interviews were analysed via a text reduction procedure to extract key themes and their contexts and to elaborate their differentiation.

The extracted key themes and their subcategories were then interpreted by means of a detailed comparison of commonalities and differences; 2 on this basis, cross-comparisons were drawn between individual passages at individual-case and cross-case levels; 3 in a further step, we applied a coding method more closely focused on the particularities of statements and argumentation.

Based on these results, a system of categories was developed which was applied as an assessment scheme and with which the interview contents were systematised. This assisted in further substantiating those categories and facilitated a deepened description of the empirical material Ezzy Ezzy, Douglas. Our interview partners relied on a broad scope of entry points into the labour market, applying their resources in various combinations and accentuations.

Overall, we identified three distinct pathways into employment that were open to refugees seeking quick labour market integration, as based on our thematic analysis: Seeking and seizing of opportunities: personal agency factors. Making use of social capital: the specific roles of volunteers, NGOs and host families.

Against All Odds: The Power of Persistence

While we draw an analytical distinction between these pathways, it is important to note that they do overlap and occur in varying combinations within our interviewees. In order to illustrate the interplay between the different pathways, we also present two individual cases in detail Figures 1 and 2 and we will discuss this interplay in the final chapter of our paper again. The case of Mohammad. A large group of the interviewed refugees showed specific attitudes and aspirations toward job seeking that strongly influenced their way of entering the labour market.

Because refugees are highly susceptible to the opportunities they encounter, it is vital that they are able to recognise them as such and actively attempt to go after them. Often, our interview partners were left with little choice other than to start a career anew from the bottom. For some interviewees, this implied accepting any job available, even if this meant being overqualified, or working for a very low wage hardly fitted to support them.

Against all Obstacles: International Women and Higher Education

Willingness to start from zero is especially demanding for those with higher levels of education or significant work experience in their home countries. Mohammad, 34 years old and from Syria, demonstrated a high level of aspirations to seize upon any chance open to him so that he could gain self-sufficiency and profit from that experience in the future.

In a retail shop, he noticed by chance that the store manager and an employee were conversing in English. He recognised this to be an opportunity as his English was very good and he successfully applied for an open position there. His job which was actually in the same field as his former job as a retail agent in Syria, but in an inferior position with a low pay gave him the possibility to further develop his language skills in contact with the host society.

By overcoming the hardship of initially entering the labour market, he was not afraid of devaluating his former work experience. Rather, he hoped to improve his chances for future employment by gaining work experience in Austria as quickly as possible. So let's say you want to work in any firm, and I have already worked for three years in my CV.

Who will they choose? Apart from this willingness to start from the bottom and work one's way up again, 9 9.

Idris, 40 and from Iraq, quickly found a job in a restaurant after receiving subsidiary protection. But he only worked on weekends, earned less than what he would have received if claiming social assistance for the unemployed, and, most importantly, forewent the chance to attend German courses for free. His German skills were still very limited and he lacked a genuine perspective to improve his working conditions. View all notes other important characteristics among our interviewees were a high level of proactivity and confidence, i. When we interviewed Issa, he was engaged in an apprenticeship in a famous Viennese hotel which is actually frequented by the president.

Self-discipline, on the other hand, is connected to educational attainments, such as learning the language of the host country, qualifying for certain jobs, making an effort to fit in with the host society, and seeking to establish social networks. Conveying exceptional motivation to find work and emphasising the desire for and commitment to work was also accompanied by distinguishing oneself from other, seemingly less motivated groups often within the same ethnicity , a background against which their efforts and willingness strongly contrasted.

Perseverance showed itself in situations of setbacks and in maintaining a positive attitude even in a long and demanding job search process.

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Not only refugees who cannot or do not want to rely on their social capital adopt this characteristic. It may also emerge in combination with the use of social capital e. Looking for a job on the Internet frequently requires writing many applications. But I knew that it would work at one point.

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After having a hard time finding a job as an agricultural engineer, she finally accepted a job as a horticulturist. Her case illustrates several important factors that can speed up the job search process, namely willingness to start from anew , perseverance in job search but also flexibility and adaptability in a professional sense , i.

This may prove to facilitate quick labour market integration.