As hundreds of migrants were drowning in the Mediterranean, the United Nations General Assembly was hours from gathering for only the second time in its history to address international migration. The juxtaposition threw a question into sharp relief: does the world body have any impact on the world’s migrants?
This report, the first in a series examining workforce development systems in three countries, focuses on the increasingly employer-led and flexible UK system that operates alongside centralized immigration and employment policies.
More than ever, human capital is seen as the ultimate resource. As a result, policymakers face the challenge of ensuring that workers have the skills and abilities to find productive employment and contribute to growth, innovation, and competitiveness in constantly evolving labor markets. Migrants’ skills are often seen as an untapped resource that, with the right formula of policies, can bolster competitiveness and fuel productivity.
This policy brief, which concludes a nine-brief series examining what is known about the linkages between migration and development, suggests that the policy framework on migration and development remains relatively weak, and few development agencies have made it a priority to promote the positive impact of international migration.
Private recruitment agencies orchestrate much of the migration process, from predeparture to return. They provide information, assistance, and even financial support to migrants; facilitate transit to and from the destination; and in some cases employ migrants directly. While recruitment agencies protect migrants, sometimes removing them from abusive workplaces or even organizing repatriation, migrants’ dependence on them for so many services also creates many opportunities for exploitation and abuse. This brief assesses the forms of regulation that are being proposed and enacted to oversee recruitment agencies and identifies several areas for further improvement.
Diasporas can play an important role in the economic development of their countries of origin or ancestry. Beyond their well-known role as senders of remittances, diasporas also can promote trade and foreign direct investment, create businesses, spur entrepreneurship, and transfer new knowledge and skills. Policymakers increasingly recognize that an engaged diaspora can be an asset — or even a counterweight to the emigration of skilled and talented migrants.
Economic and demographic disparities will shape the mobility of labor and skills during the 21st century. The populations of richer societies are aging rapidly, while working-age populations continue to grow in some emerging economies and most low-income countries. Despite these trends, many countries continue to assume that today’s demographic realities will persist. This policy brief describes how the current geography of migration is changing, and offers recommendations for policymakers.
Skilled migration is often thought to have overwhelmingly negative effects on countries of migrant origin. Yet recent research and policy experience challenge this assumption and offer a more nuanced picture, as this brief explains. Countries of origin and destination can in fact benefit from skilled migration when it is correctly structured, and efforts to restrict skilled nationals’ ability to leave their countries of origin may have unintended costs, in addition to being ethically problematic.