This technical brief aims to answer questions such as:

  • How do the skills and educational outcomes of foreign-born young people compare with those of the native-born?
  • Do immigrants’ outcomes differ depending on whether they are EU foreign-born or non-EU foreign-born?
  • How do the educational outcomes of second-generation immigrants compare with those of first-generation immigrants?
  • How does the performance of recently arrived migrants compare with that of long-established immigrants? and with that of natives?
  • Is there a correlation between educational outcomes and age of arrival or duration of stay?

The brief thus seeks to contribute to analysis of the qualifications and skills composition of migrants in EU countries, as compared with that of their native counterparts. We take a life-cycle approach, focusing in turn on children, young adults and the overall working-age population. We start by looking at the skills of 15-year-old pupils. We then move on to the performance of young adults, in terms of a number of education-related indicators: early school leaving (ESL), young people neither in employment nor in education and training (NEETs), tertiary education attainment (TEA) and employment rate of recent graduates. Finally, we present a snapshot of the skills of the adult population. The results show that second-generation migrant students are systematically more disadvantaged than their native peers across EU countries; however, adults who arrived in the country when still young generally perform at levels closer to those of their native counterparts (or at least better than first-generation migrants), showing that education systems (including vocational training) have a key role to play in the integration process. Nonetheless, there still seems to be a significant under-used stock of migrant human capital. Being aware of this situation is crucial to putting in place policies and active measures to ensure that adult migrants are fully integrated.