Foreign occupational credentials on the German labour market

Third Party Funds Group - Sub project

Overall project details

Overall project: SPP 1764: The German Labour Market in a Globalised World: Challenges through Trade, Technology and Demographics


Project Details

Project leader:
Prof. Dr. Martin Abraham


Contributing FAU Organisations:
Lehrstuhl für Soziologie und Empirische Sozialforschung (Schwerpunkt Arbeitsmarktsoziologie)

Funding source: DFG / Schwerpunktprogramm (SPP)
Start date: 01/08/2014


Research Fields

Change in the World of Work
Research focus area of a faculty: Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften


Abstract (technical / expert description):


In todays globalized world, Germany is as an economically successful country an attractive destination for migrants. A major problem which migrants face is their transferability of foreign human capital. Besides language barriers foreign certificates play a major role in determining their economic integration. While foreign school systems are more or less transparent and assessable, the vocational training systems differ greatly from country to country and are, hence, hardly comparable. If we focus on unregulated occupations, the question arises how firms in Germany handle foreign occupational certificates. This is relevant as employers are the central gatekeeper when migrants try to find employment that matches their training. There are many other theoretical arguments why employers prefer native over foreign applicants, e.g. based on assumptions of lower productivity due to lower language skills, a lack of institutional knowledge etc. or an ascribed maladjustment to foreigners. Especially discrimination by employers cannot be ruled out. To understand the role of occupational certificates we focus on comparable foreign applicants with and without foreign occupational credentials. The questions are: How do firms deal with foreign credentials and which role do they play in hiring decisions? Answering these questions will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of labour market integration of skilled migrants, which also proves relevant in the context of handling labour shortages. The basic idea is to present hypothetical applicants to executive managers and enquire the chances that the presented applicants will be invited for a job interview. In our study the information on the applicant will be experimentally (that is randomly) varied by the use of a factorial survey design. A factorial survey is a combination of experiment and survey research. Each respondent evaluates several hypothetical short descriptions of situations (vignettes) whose attributes vary experimentally on a defined number of levels. The orthogonal design allows the estimation of effect sizes for each attribute. Our factorial survey will be integrated in a questionnaire in which we also enquire traits on both respondent and firm level. The main advantage of the experimental design is, however, that it allows for unbiased estimates of the invitation probability for interviews. The selectivity of real labour market data on applicants is omitted by the randomized assignment to the respondents. Besides, when investigating sensitive issues like the handling of foreign applicants this procedure is to a lesser extent prone to effects of social desirability than immediate polls on the topic. Finally, the survey data can be matched to the Employment History data provided by the Research Data Centre of the German Federal Employment Agency. The combination of experimental survey data and process data offers wide possibilities to examine the recruitment processes of firms.


Last updated on 2018-22-11 at 18:41