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Skilled Migrants in Austria: Needed but Unwelcome?


STaR hosted a panel discussion open to the WU Vienna community and to external audience, with the aim to raise awareness on the topic of high skilled migrants in Austria...

The public panel discussion “Skilled Migrants in Austria: Needed but Unwelcome?” owes its inspiration to the ongoing research on migration at WU Vienna, where several groups of investigators across different academic disciplines are working on topics related to this important issue. The open-to-public event on April 10 was followed by a two-day specialized academic workshop on global migration, co-hosted by STaR and the WU Vienna Department of Management, in cooperation with the Journal of World Business.

We are delighted that the panel discussion brought together an incredibly diverse audience, and we would like to thank all of those who attended! We also appreciate individual email inquiries and encouragement for future endeavors we received following the event.

The evening was opened by WU Vienna International Business department professor Günter Stahl, who as of January 2019, together with professor Sigrid Stagl at the Ecological Economics Department, are academic directors of STaR.

An introductory note was given by Aida Hajro (Brunel University London and WU Vienna). Hajro pointed out to some of the pressing issues surrounding global labor migration, including wrong-headed immigration and integration policies at the state level, and societal misconceptions regarding immigration. She further addressed immediate implications for international business and trade, describing the increasing pressure by intergovernmental and non-profit organizations for the private sector to ensure greater adherence to migrant employees’ human and labor rights.

The evening’s panelists came from highly diverse cultural and professional backgrounds [for more on speakers’ profiles, please click here] and offered many valuable insights into the challenges skilled migrants face in Austria. For example, WU Vienna professor Wolfgang Mayrhofer discussed the socio-historic context of Austria as a not-traditionally immigrant receiving country and described the difficulties with labor market entry, over-qualification, and higher social acceptance of some migrant groups over the others, in relation to the broader societal context. HR expert Martina Ernst listed the major challenges for skilled migrants from the industry perspective. She also commented on the needs of firms that seek to hire qualified migrants (e.g., meeting potential candidates in their home countries, dealing with administrative obstacles, lack of collaboration between private sector and the government). Finally, we are particularly thankful to Kaiser Ahmed and Bruno Campos –successfulhighly qualified migrants who live and work in Austria – for providing real-life examples illustrating the bureaucratic hurdles, societal-level obstacles, career difficulties, but at the same time, also opportunities and personal success stories. Overall, all four panelists agreed that concrete infrastructural improvements have to be made in order for Austria to meet its current economic demand for highly qualified workforce.

One major impression, voiced not only by the panelists but also by several people in the audience, is that it is critical to raise more public awareness of the topic. On this note, STaR will seek for the conversation to continue, and we invite anyone interested in skilled migration (whether or not you have experienced it yourself) to contact us at We are also happy to add you to our stakeholders’ list, in case you are interested in future events organized by STaR.

Author (event moderator): Milda Žilinskaitė

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