You are here: Home Knowledge Base Society Migration, Integration and Identity Solutions For low- to medium-skilled migrants, host countries should adopt temporary or circular labor migration programs in sectors with transient or cyclical skill shortages. But they should prevent the exploitation of ...
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 low- to medium-skilled migrants, host countries should adopt temporary or circular labor migration programs in sectors with transient or cyclical skill shortages. But they should prevent the exploitation of workers and ensure their return to origin countries after a set period through simple repatriation rules and compulsory saving schemes where payout is contingent on the migrant leaving the host country.

In many destination countries, there has been a resurgence of interest in temporary migration programs. While some of its advocates see temporary migration mainly as a way to limit (permanent) immigration, others see it as a way to expand immigration without running into the sort of political resistance that permanent immigration often faces.

The suitability of temporary migration programs for solving persistent skill shortages may be questioned. The motivation for migrants working in low- or medium-skilled jobs to return home is often weak. Similarly, with persistent skill shortages, employers will generally prefer to retain current migrant employees beyond their fixed date of return rather than hiring new temporary workers who are lacking the firm-specific knowledge of the current workers. Temporary migration programs may then become unsustainable.

Well-designed temporary or circular migration programs for low- or medium-skilled workers may still prove beneficial for situations of clearly transient or cyclical skill shortages—for example, seasonal work.

To ensure that these programs are responsible and viable, it is important to design them in a way that both prevents exploitation of migrant workers and ensures that they actually return to their home countries after a set period. Regulations of effective temporary migration programs have to comprise the premigration phase, the overseas phase and, finally, the repatriation phase.

During the premigration phase, the main task is to find effective ways of selecting and training migrants. During the overseas phase, the availability of appropriate grievance procedures, as well as opportunities for skill development, are important. In the repatriation phase, there should be effective procedures for the reintegration of the migrant into the home country labor market.

Additional instruments—such as facilitated rules for future reentry or compulsory saving schemes that pay out savings only if the migrant leaves the country legally—may be necessary to ensure the return of the temporary (or seasonal) workers.

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    Symposium 2011

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    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 ...

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