Lithuania has been experiencing intense labour migration since the late 1990s, however statistics show that many migrants come back. PPMI with grant support from the Research Council of Lithuania undertook a study on labour market integration of such return migrants in Lithuania. In particular, the study asked whether the skills and knowledge gained abroad helped return migrants secure employment and ensure career development in Lithuania, and whether the secondary education system is prepared to accommodate returning children. We collected a wealth of empirical data by conducting surveys (of the returnees, employers and the overall population) and in-depth interviews as a well as a focus group with teachers, returnees and their children.
The study found that professional motives matter a lot as a reason for return, in particular for highly qualified persons. This group finds employment in Lithuania without much difficulty, although individual experiences vary; for example, returning researchers have a more difficult time securing employment and adapting in public sector institutions, such as universities. Meanwhile, we found that the situation of those with lower qualifications is more complicated. In particular, given that employers find it difficult to assess qualifications gained abroad, they tend to disregard or discount such qualifications during the job application or job interview. Finally, we also found that although the Lithuanian education system has formal tools to help the children of returning migrants, they rarely apply them in practice, especially in the smaller towns. This means that individual schools and teachers have to improvise: while some approach the returning children with support and compassion, others lack relevant skills and fail to create the right atmosphere for return.
This study was one of a number of studies that PPMI implemented since 2005 analysing return migration and providing relevant policy advice. PPMI has presented the ‘Friends or Foes’ study in Lithuania and internationally. Moreover, the study informed publications in Lithuanian (with summaries in English) in a special issue of the Political Science journal (‘Politologija’), and in English, an analysis of integration of highly qualified migrants for International Migration.
For more information on this project contact Egidijus Barcevičius or Dovilė Jonavičienė.