Study and Work Experiences across the Border: their Impact on Cross-border Careers

Immigrants to Europe often face difficulties transferring their elsewhere-acquired human capital to destination countries: cross-border mobility or migration can pose considerable additional costs regarding the value of education and (work) experiences on new labour markets. These costs can have an impact on the life and cross-border careers of immigrants as well as the society at large through potential brain waste. Previous research indicates that institutional differences between countries such as qualification systems and qualification recognition can play a considerable role in facilitating human capital transfer. That is, there is evidence that formal recognition of foreign qualifications contributes to higher employment chances and wage gains. However we insufficiently understand how the recognition impacts labour market outcomes in specific labour market situations and from a longitudinal perspective. Substantial questions remain: How does the return on recognition of the qualification differ according to the sector of employment? After all, since various sectors attach different value to qualifications it can be assumed that the added value of getting a qualification recognised differs from sector to sector. What are the short and long term effects of qualification recognition regarding the nature of employment? And does the recognition of qualifications lead to more or less onward migration, and the further development of cross-border careers? To what extend is the recognition of qualifications a stepping-stone to an international career? Do immigrants with recognized qualifications have more opportunities to continue to migrate or are they more invested in the current society? In the context of these questions, the extent to which the labour market is regulated will also impact the importance of qualification recognition. That is why a study of the German (highly regulated) and Belgian (less regulated) labour markets will be insightful to understand the importance of qualification recognition. This PhD-project addresses therefore the following central question: How does the recognition of foreign qualifications impact the cross-border careers of highly qualified immigrants to Flanders and Germany? The central research question will be addressed through a longitudinal mixed-methods design using administrative data, survey data and repeated narrative interviews.

Researcher: Saena Chakkar (see profile)

Supervisors: Frank Cörvers, Wendy Smits, Adrian Lerche (see profiles)