This paper addresses the question of how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the labour market integration support (LMIS) organised for refugees in Austria and Sweden, and the potential consequences of the changes unfolding. LMIS for refugees is a complex phenomenon involving actors at different interwoven levels-the macro-national level, the meso-organisational level and the micro-individual level. However, the complexities and consequences of such processes for the labour market integration of refugees have so far received limited attention. The current Covid-19 pandemic actualises the need to gain a better understanding of how integration support is organised across the different levels and how the pandemic itself impacts such support. Thus, the article seeks to understand how the pandemic affects the LMIS organised for refugees in Austria and Sweden, two countries with a large refugee population and diverging responses to the pandemic. Based on 29 semi-structured interviews and three focus group workshops, the results highlight in particular three developments: (a) a further entrenching of broader, macro-national level developments related to integration support already underway prior to the pandemic; (b) further mainstreaming of activities; and (c) increased volatility of work. Overall, the pandemic has brought to the fore the interrelation of different levels in the organising of LMIS for refugees and has contributed to a stabilisation of already ongoing activities.
Keywords: Austria; Covid-19 pandemic; Labour market; Labour market integration; Mainstreaming; Refugees; Relational framework; Support organisations; Sweden.
© The Author(s) 2021.