XENOPHOBIA is keeping foreign-born jobseekers out of the labour market across Europe, research has found.

The EU-funded SIRIUS project, which involves researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), looked at conditions in 11 different countries.

Its third-phase report found a “general climate of xenophobia” in the policy discourses of some bodies in every country studied, including the Czech Republic, Finland, Greece, Denmark, Switzerland and the UK.

This, researchers say, is contributing to widespread “brain waste” – keeping highly skilled and highly capable migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from non-EU nations in posts they are overqualified for, and locking some out of the labour market altogether.

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In the UK, migrants were found to have “low earnings” despite a high employment rate, with foreign-born men taking home less than their UK-born counterparts. This is despite immigrants “being on average more educated than native-born workers”, according to work based on Labour Force Survey statistics from 2017.

The SIRIUS team said the UK Government – which retains power over immigration and aims to reduce net migration to under 100,000 a year – were found to “regard migrants as a burden and therefore only desirable as long as they did not draw on public services”.

However, researchers said the Scottish Government is “much more interested” in promoting migrant labour market integration process, and is “much less sceptical of migration, generally, than the UK Government”.

Of all states studied, the UK was found to spend the least on “activation measures” to help people into employment.

And while researchers stated the lack of assessment of the skills and qualifications of individuals going through the process of claiming asylum, they noted that a project aimed to capture this data in Scotland is currently in the pilot phase.

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Project manager Francesca Calo of GCU told The National the newly published paper shows that public discourse around migration, asylum and employment should change, with countries focussing on the benefits to be gained from the work and skills of incomers.

This, she argued, could be as or more important than dominant ideas of charity to those seeking to build lives in the UK.

She said: “Solidarity is important, but maybe we need to provide evidence that can help people to see the assets that these people bring in.”

Calo and her team interviewed around 50 immigrants in Scotland for their part in this phase of the three-year project. They include people from India, Pakistan and Iran.

She said gaps in data collection mean it is vital for academics to investigate the issue and help policymakers understand the realities for both individuals and society at large.

On the training and experience held by some, she said failure to clearly signpost routes to employment can contribute to holding people back, stating: “A lot of people come to the UK and have to start from scratch, from college level.

“This means they might need 10 years to be integrated with the labour market. That has an affect for the person and for the community.

“A lot of services have fragmented or are not directed at migrants.”