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Symposium 2014

Proposal - Creating Virtuous Talent Triangles for Labor Migrants: An Asian Perspective

The Challenge

Migration and demographic trends are rapidly shifting. South-south migration has become as significant as migration from the south to the north. Talent pools in aging and demographically declining reg ...

Migration and demographic trends are rapidly shifting. South-south migration has become as significant as migration from the south to the north. Talent pools in aging and demographically declining regions are shrinking. Yet, the outcomes of migration can vary, and these outcomes can be influenced by a number of factors, which include but are not limited to the provision of rights to migrants, the level of preparedness of migrants, and language skills. Virtuous talent triangles aim at creating wins for the main stakeholders involved: migrants, emigration countries, and immigration countries. Asia has taken on the challenge: much has been undertaken to improve the rights of migrants and to ease the movement of labor. National governments have also taken steps to prepare migrants for life and work abroad, as have immigration countries, by helping newcomers integrate into their new home countries. Furthermore, international, national and nongovernmental stakeholders have worked to improve the data available on the scope, nature, and outcomes of migration.

Strengthen awareness of ethical recruitment practices and facilitate the work of the Asian Association of Overseas Employment Service Providers (AAA-OESP) in creating an industry-led support for ethical recruitment in the Colombo Process Member States.

This solution is aimed at supporting the efforts of the AAA-OESP in promoting ethical and professional recruitment practices, providing reliable services to employers and migrants, and the elimination of illegal recruitment, irregular migration and trafficking.

Many countries in Asia are now at the forefront of discussions on temporary labour migration simply because of the large masses of people from these countries who travel to different parts of the world in search of employment. In 2008, approximately 5.4 million labour migrants from the Colombo Process (CP) countries alone migrated through official channels (IOM, 2011). This was a significant increase from 2.7 million in 2005 (ibid). These numbers are growing, and as globalisation continues to create new opportunities and linkages, the movement of labour between countries is likely to reach new heights; and as these new heights are reached, it becomes increasingly important to address the challenges surrounding labour migration.

According to a report published by IOM (2011) titled “Labour Migration from Colombo Process Countries Good Practices, Challenges and Way Forward”, in spite of the achievements of the CP countries in some key areas, challenges remain in ensuring the creation of efficient and equitable migration systems that enable maximisation of benefits for all stakeholders involved in the migration process. One such challenge lies in managing recruitment.

Often the exploitation of migrant workers starts at the early stages of the migration cycle, i.e. during recruitment in the countries of origin[1]. In the CP countries, licensed recruitment agencies continue to charge migrants excessive and unauthorized fees despite government regulations against such practices. Fraud and deceit are still common, and control over informal brokers, sub-agents and illegal recruiters remains limited. As a consequence, migrant workers fall into a vicious cycle of exploitation, and become more prone to vulnerability at the hands of their foreign employers. The situation worsens for them when there is little or no opportunity for access to justice, welfare and social protection.

However, it is not only migrant workers who bear the burden of ill-managed recruitment. Unethical recruitment practices can also create a strain on relations between sending and receiving countries, especially when cases of abuse and exploitation receive intense attention from the media.

Recognising these and the value of promoting and implementing ethical recruitment practices for migrants, countries of origin and destination, members of the AAA-OESP (consisting of recruitment/employment agencies from 10 countries: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam) signed a Joint Statement in Pursuit of Ethical Recruitment on April 2, 2014. According to the statement, the 10 countries committed to the pursuit of ethical recruitment practice and professionalism in accordance with ILO and international conventions, recognised the gravity and importance of democratic industry associations to act as the voice to bring their members’ needs to focus, and accepted the need to strengthen partnerships on recruitment and employment-related challenges with governments, employers, migrant workers, etc. in both sending and receiving countries.

As a means to push toward triple wins in the migration game, I would like to propose the implementation of national-level meetings with recruitment agencies and other interested stakeholders to follow up on the commitments signed by the country representatives. These meetings should be structured to highlight national challenges to and priorities for the implementation of ethical recruitment practices in these countries, facilitate discussions on methods to facilitate ethical recruitment (whether through the use of new technology or tightening up of regulations, for example), and help identify opportunities for partnerships with different stakeholders, etc. As an outcome of these meetings, the recruitment agencies can draft national action plans that outline the activities/steps they plan to initiate in order to boost ethical and professional recruitment practices, provide reliable services to employers and migrants, and the eliminate illegal recruitment, irregular migration and trafficking. Once the national action plans are finalised, the recruitment agencies should be able to pilot test the activities in coordination with the government, development partners, migrant workers, civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders. By drawing together individual stakeholders in the recruitment process, this process is likely to strengthen awareness of ethical recruitment practices and facilitate the work of the AAA-OESP in creating an industry-led support for ethical recruitment in the Colombo Process Member States. The steps taken at the national level can collectively build towards achieving the regional goals, and as a consequence, help realise regional prosperity.

The benefits of ensuring ethical and professional recruitment cannot be described adequately in words. Simply put, if we target the problem at the roots, the chances of having to cope with larger damages in future will be nipped in the bud.

 


 

Bibliography:
International Organisation for Migration (2011). Labour Migration from Colombo Process Countries Good Practices, Challenges and Way Forward. Geneva: International Organisation for Migration. p1-14.