Soft, Scarce, and Super Skills: Sourcing the Next Generation of Migrant Workers in Europe
This report examines how European governments with immigration regimes based on a narrow dichotomy between desirable high-skilled workers and undesirable low-skilled flows may be ill-equipped to identify the skill needs of a 21st-century economy characterized by rapid change. Authors detail the current policies of European nations, particularly points systems and “shortage lists,” and highlight the flaws of such systems which base selection on formal indictors of applicants’ educational qualifications, work experience, previous salary, and occupation. They propose that governments seeking to remain competitive should instead, draw on the global labor market to attract those with relevant scarce, soft, and super skills.
The three key skills are defined as follows: Scarce skills are not necessarily high-level skills but those for which there is a clear shortage in the labor market, including skills necessary to fill vacancies in three-D—dirty, dangerous, and difficult—jobs. Soft skills are the everyday skills beyond technical expertise, knowledge, and professional qualifications, which are crucial in translating proficiency into economic output. Super skills are those held by a small number of individuals who disproportionately drive economic activity, value creation, and international competitiveness.
The report concludes with policy recommendations for improving governments’ recruitment strategies in these areas.