Crushed Hopes

Underemployment and Deskilling among Skilled Migrant Women

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This report is a collective publication comprising a review of international literature on the subject of migrant deskilling and underemployment from a gender perspective and three empirical case studies from Switzerland, Canada and the United Kingdom. It explores the disproportionate difficulties skilled migrant women can face in transferring their skills and finding employment commensurate with their education when relocating to a new country. The case studies highlight situations in which migratory status and labour market dynamics can combine to constrain skilled and highly skilled migrant women to low-skilled occupations despite their often high human capital. They also analyse the impact that such occupational downgrading can have on migrant women’s well-being and the strategies that women can adopt to regain a professional status.



“I don’t want to be stuck as a carer”: The effects of deskilling on the livelihoods and opportunities of migrant care workers in England

At the cusp of the twenty-first century, pervasive deskilling of migrant women is taking place, not only in Canada, as Pratt (2004) has observed, but at the global level, especially in the care industry. This case study exposes a similar trend amongst migrant women in the social care sector in England. This report draws on data from a two-year study (2008–2010) that was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) in England. The study aims to examine the ways that highly skilled migrant women are drawn into the global care industry and the overall effects on their livelihoods and opportunities, and it highlights their perceptions of being deskilled as care workers. The sample discussed in this report is comprised of 54 migrant care workers (both EU nationals and non-EU residents) for the elderly in England.


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