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How to get a job? Returning migrants and their job entries in Cameroon and Ghana

Start of the project: 2008

Ph.D. student: Julia Boger

Contact data

Telephone: 0921-55-4116
Fax: 0921-55-4118

Project description

Germany is one of the primary destinations in Europe for African scholars to study. Universities have a high reputation considering standards and technical equipment and studies have been more or less tuition free in comparison to countries such as France and U.K. With the introduction of International degree English language Bachelor- and Master programmes Germany has even increased its popularity. But are graduates able to fully make use of their know-how? Graduates from African countries who studied abroad are often perceived as “agents of change” who have the potential to transfer their knowledge into their home countries societies and hence can foster development. This idea, that return migration is a benefit, a so called “brain-gain” for African countries is especially promoted in policy discourses of development cooperation and in transnational migration studies. But despite empirical studies have been carried out and theoretical models have been designed since the 1970ies to highlight pro and contra of return migration, little is known up to today, about the job finding process. How do people find their jobs and how successful are the professional trajectories of formerly “German-trained” African Alumni’s after their return. This research project investigates on this job entry processes by using qualitative data deriving from interviews in which returned graduates described their job search and professional careers. Most of them delineate that personal contacts were more or less involved in the process at a certain level. This finding matches Granovetter’s (1974) empirical works, and his distinction between the different kind of contacts can even be extended and applied to the special country cases: By analysing and comparing the job entries of returned graduates from two different countries Ghana and Cameroon, it shows that they do have different job entry patterns, depending on their social status, their educational backgrounds and their social networks. But in how far these “forms of capital”, to use Bourdieu’s (1986) sociologists terminology, affect the professional mobility of returned Ghanaian and Cameroonian graduates in relation to their mere qualification and skills, has to be analysed.

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