Iceland Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour invites immigrants to participate in policy discussion News
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Iceland Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour invites immigrants to participate in policy discussion

Iceland’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour invited immigrants on Monday to participate in a discussion on policy of immigrant matters. The meeting will take place in Reykjavik and aims to provide immigrants with an opportunity to “better integrate and actively participate in society.”

There has been a push for immigration in Iceland in recent years. According to the 2023 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), immigration has rapidly increased in Iceland since the 1990s. It is reported that in the middle of 2023, foreign citizens made up roughly 18 percent of the Icelandic population compared to the 2 percent reported in the mid-1990s. Most of these immigrants come from Poland or other countries within the European Economic Area. This increase has boosted the working-age population, mainly between the ages of 25 and 49, and helped meet labor demands, contributing significantly to labor market flexibility.

While there have been several benefits from the growing population, the country has also been met with new challenges. OECD reported that education has proved to be one of the most troubling areas for the country as immigration increases. Immigrant students have different needs, thus struggling with their educational performance. Immigrants also are facing challenges with housing and the type of employment available. They are subject to high housing costs and tend to live in overcrowded areas. They also are over-represented in low-skill, labor-intensive sectors. OECD reported that immigrants accounted for over 20 percent of the total employment, mainly in sectors such as manufacturing, fishing, tourism and construction.

The ministry appointed a steering committee and began work in early 2023 to draft a policy on immigrant and refugee matters. The committee strongly believes that the number of immigrants will only continue to increase in the coming years. Very few studies have focused on immigrants’ integration and participation in society, thus leading to the meeting.