02 SES 06 B, Learning in the Workplace: Language and Skills Transfer
Background, Context and Theory
One of the newest immigration countries in the EU is Finland whereas Hungary is still an emigration country. In other words, Finland gains more people than loses annually, whereas Hungary loses more its citizens than gains through immigration. In 2004 the UK with Ireland and Sweden granted all A8 countries free access to its labour market, whereas Finland has been a new country for Russians to migrate. As a result, the increasing flow of people has created new challenges for governments and national economies. Employers look for specific skills and competencies, while migrants arrive with qualifications that are not described in terms that are used, recognized, and understood in the receiving country (Lasonen, 2010; Laczik & Lasonen, 2010). Therefore, in comparison to the dominant population, immigrants are disadvantaged in education and in the labor market. Research on immigrants’ job placement, long-term employment, career prospects, salaries, recruitment processes and successes/failures is still relatively scarce. The purpose of this paper is to investigate Hungarian and Russian migrants’ access to the English and Finnish labor markets respectively. We address the following questions:
(1) What are migrants’ career prospects and progression?
(2) What are their perceptions of employability in England and Finland?
Employment is a way of self-fulfillment, and it is decisive not only concerning individual prosperity and economic growth but also when finding a way into society. This is especially true for migrants who decide to make a living in a country other than where they were born, educated, and where they were an integral part of society. Brown (2009) claims that language proficiency, or initial language knowledge, is a precondition of long-term structural and social integration, and is also part of the formal entry requirement. Spencer, Ruth, Andreson & Rogaly (2007) point to the relationship between language knowledge and satisfaction with the information migrants received when entering a new country. Sumption & Somerville (2010) also warn that language barriers are greater for recent UK migrants than for earlier migrant groups, and that this reduces their opportunities for integration in the labor market. They often have precarious employment and housing arrangements and they are more vulnerable to exploitation. However, they are often favored by employers for their flexibility, work ethic, reliability and positive attitudes towards work (Office for National Statistics, 2011; Stenning & Dawley, 2009; Ruhs, 2006).
Refused recognition hurts people ”not simply because it harms subjects or restricts their freedom to act … because it injures them with regard to the positive understanding of themselves that they have acquired intersubjectively” (Honneth, 1995, p. 131). Recognition is not only a matter of abstract justice and equity but also of self-realization. Individuals belonging to marginalized or underprivileged groups may suffer from a lack of credibility when they deserve to be counted as credible professionals. Fraser (1997) represents politics of recognition emphasizing a basic discord between a theory of cultural justice that enhances the recognition of difference and a theory of distributive justice that advocates the just distribution of resources. Taylor (1994) connected the concept of recognition to multiculturalism on the grounds that it is in the human nature to be recognised as unique, especially for cultural characteristics. Hence, recognition is related to both, cultural difference, and to values and equality. In this paper, we focus on the multicultural migrants’ self-assessment how they have experienced the recognition of their competence for employment in England and Finland.
 The East European countries that joined the European Union in 2004 (A8) are: Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Each of these countries was a part of the Soviet bloc before 1989.
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