Hybrid Immigrant-Selection Systems: The Next Generation of Economic Migration Schemes
This report examines the advantages and disadvantages of two fundamentally different approaches to economic migrant selection: demand driven and employer led systems that cater to the labor market’s immediate needs and employers’ vetting processes; and human-capital-accumulation focused and government led systems, best illustrated by “points systems,” which apportion numerical values to human-capital characteristics that are thought to best advance a nation’s longer-term economic interests and demographic imperatives. The report finds that demand driven systems are effective at capturing workers’ soft—as well as hard—skills and meeting employers’ real time needs for workers with a particular skill set, although they may be shortsighted in terms of a nation’s broader human capital needs. On the other hand, an analysis of the points systems of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom reveal advantages in being a transparent and flexible system that allows immigration regimes to set and implement a strategic vision for economic growth, albeit challenges in matching abstract sets of skills to the specific needs of employers and addressing labor market shortages in low- and semi-skilled occupations.
Within this context, authors consider the advantages of hybrid systems that combine the best attributes of both methods of selection while addressing the inherent weaknesses and competing priorities of each. Authors propose several strategies for constructing a hybrid system that provides thoughtful government controls alongside a selection framework that allows market forces to remain at its core. They include: incorporating job offer requirements into the points system, investing more heavily in pre-migration credential quality assessments and skills evaluations, facilitating non-points-based admission programs that have key elements of the human-capital based points-system logic, and experimenting with temporary-to-permanent provisional work visas. Finally, regardless of how a state chooses to construct a hybrid system, the report recommends that the system be as simple and adaptable as possible, encompass long-term goals for strategic growth in targeted areas, and make the case for the value of immigration to all societal actors at all times.