Major EU capitals continue to attract a growing number of highly skilled European citizens, who benefit from mobility/free labour movement within the European Union. Highly skilled migrants are considered by major stakeholders (i.e., governments, the European Commission, private sector, and academia) as critical players in the success of the EU economy in an ever increasing competitive global market for talent, innovation and economic growth. Traditional countries of immigration, such as Australia, Canada, and the United States have a long tradition of attracting highly skilled migrants as a critical element aimed at socio-economic success. However, despite long standing academic credentials and work experience, highly skilled female migrant workers[1] experience many difficulties in re-entering the labour market, as well as periods of unemployment and deskilling in the host country both in North America as well as in the European Union[2]. According to the European Commission “A key priority of the European Union is achievable and effective mobility for EU citizens. [As such,] The Community is working to encourage open and easily accessible opportunities for citizens to move around the Union for educational, professional, healthcare or other purposes.”[3] Major EU capitals, like Vienna, are an international “hosting hubs” for a number of highly skilled EU migrant women and third country nationals, who have either migrated on their own or agreed to accompany their spouse. However, in spite of high skills and work experience acquired in their home country or abroad, a great deal of female migrants face difficulties in re-entering the labour market, as well as periods of unemployment and deskilling.

The OECD[4] and European Commission have highlighted that future labour shortages created by demographic changes in Europe, caused by low birth rates and ageing population, need to be remedied, so as to maintain the level of economic growth in the region. Increasing the participation of highly skilled women into the labour force is viewed as one of the potential solutions to address this problem. Predictions as to when the labour shortage will happen range from 2015 to 2030; yet this reality is eminent despite the current economic crisis and high levels of unemployment in a number of EU Member States. If, on the one hand, some highly skilled women may leave the labour market on a voluntary basis, others feel more or less “forced” by circumstances. These include: a lack of appropriate childcare, migration or inability to find appropriate employment commensurate to their skills or in their professional field.

Despite a valuable and extensive literature on EU mobility and international migration, there has been little attention to the challenges and lack of appropriate support services in assisting the integration of highly skilled female migrants in the EU labour market. Through a combination of literature review, document analysis, qualitative interviews/case studies, my aim is to carry out my PhD project and this webpage initiative, on the topic of integration of highly skilled female migrants into the labour market, as an example of mobility within the EU and settlement in a major urban centres.

I thank you for the interest in the subject and I hope this initiative will be of interest and inspiration to you, as well as leading into fruitful initiatives in this area.


[1] EU Citizens and third country nationals

[2] See Bibliography: Koffman, Riano, Salaff, Preston and Gilles.

[4] Bi-lateral Agreements and Other Forms of Labour Recruitment: Some Lessons from OECD Countries Experience, Feb 2006, Tokyo, Japan.