You are here: Home Knowledge Base Society Migration, Integration and Identity Solutions For medium- to high-skilled migrants, design migration policies to align their skills better with the labor market needs of the destination country. To this end, allow for direct private sector ...
Symposium 2011

Solution for Migration, Integration and Identity

The Challenge

Migration is a central dimension of globalization. It entails major challenges but also major opportunities for countries of origin and countries of destination, as well as migrants themselves. Advanc ...

Migration is a central dimension of globalization. It entails major challenges but also major opportunities for countries of origin and countries of destination, as well as migrants themselves. Advances in information and communications technologies and affordable travel allow migrants to be part of life in both their home and host countries.

For medium- to high-skilled migrants, design migration policies to align their skills better with the labor market needs of the destination country. To this end, allow for direct private sector and private employment agencies’ involvement based on internationally recognized recruitment standards and principles.

The benefits of labor migration for the destination country and for the migrants themselves are heavily affected by the professional skills of the migrants and how they fit the labor market needs of the destination country. Even during the global financial crisis, many jobs have remained unfilled because employers could not find workers with the right skills. And there are clear signs that skill shortages are becoming more pronounced and more persistent as the economy recovers and as demographic changes lead to a shrinking workforce in many developed countries.

At the same time, unemployment remains high in many destination countries, particularly among the migrant population. It is, thus, of great importance that migration policies are designed so as to align the skills of migrant workers with the labor market needs of the destination country. Such an alignment will benefit both the economy by unleashing idle employment and growth potential and the migrants, who will find adequate jobs and, thus, be able to integrate more easily, both economically and socially.

The immigration of workers with “inadequate” skills, by contrast, may easily lead to disappointments and high economic costs both for the destination country and the migrants themselves.

The debate on skill shortages and migration often focuses only on the high-skilled. This focus overshadows the fact that in many countries, there are severe and persistent labor shortages in many mid-level skill areas, such as the skilled trades. Destination countries should clarify without bias what jobs and skills they will need in the future and what is the stock of people they have.

For workers with scarce skills, both the medium- and high-skilled, more expansive migration opportunities and greater involvement of the private sector will be key elements of the solution. The details of private sector involvement may differ between high- and medium-skilled sectors. For the high-skilled, it may be enough to let individual employers decide whether they need to recruit someone from outside the country (or, for example, from outside the EU) to fill a particular vacancy.

For the medium-skilled, selection and matching processes are equally important but often too difficult for employers in the destination country to perform on their own. Here a stronger involvement of internationally active private labor employment agencies (temporary work agencies) could be part of the solution. These agencies could bring their experience in recruiting, screening and training workers (job training and language training) and in matching workers and firms.

Currently, these firms are often reluctant to engage in the lower and middle skills spectrum because of widespread malpractices in this area. In addition to being generally more open to labor migration and to allowing for a more active role of private employment agencies, governments, thus, need to ensure that internationally recognized recruitment standards and principles are respected in sending countries as well as in receiving countries.

Additionally, governments need to mutually recognize qualifications and skills.

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