Global Compact for Migration’s Focus on Skills Partnerships to Train Prospective Migrants Is Promising but Largely Untested
WASHINGTON — As policymakers increasingly recognize that expanded legal migration pathways should be a component of their migration-management strategies, they are revisiting the role that partnerships can play in facilitating migration while encouraging development in migrant-origin countries. While there is a long history of partnerships offering work placements for low-skilled labor migrants, there is growing interest in how these projects might encourage mid- or high-skilled migration in nursing, STEM and other sectors.
Despite their potential, partnerships have produced mixed results to date. While some projects have resulted in collaboration on recruitment and skills development, others never make it past the pilot stage, beset by high costs and inconsistent returns for employers and governments alike.
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which is due to be adopted by UN member states in December, is advancing a new model. Instead of recruiting already qualified professionals, which raises concerns about human resource depletion in developing countries, this next generation of skills partnerships focuses on training prospective migrants in their countries or regions of origin—as well as peers who may never seek to migrate.
A new Migration Policy Institute policy brief, Reimagining Skilled Migration Partnerships to Support Development, finds this new model holds significant potential but requires testing on a larger scale and some adjustments based on experiences to date. The few pilot projects carried out so far have been expensive and difficult to scale up, with limited effects on the international mobility of graduates.
The assumption behind skills partnerships is that for the same cost as training one person in a destination country, governments and employers could afford to train several people to the same standard in the regions of origin. All participants would receive high-quality training for occupations in demand, regardless of their decision to migrate, stay or return. Countries of origin would benefit from having more skilled people at home and abroad, while employers in countries of destination would gain access to a larger pool of workers with desired skills. As a result, countries at both ends of the migration continuum would reap benefits.
MPI Associate Policy Analyst Kate Hooper notes the global skills partnership model remains largely untested, outside an Australia-Pacific Island vocational training program that, while highly rated, has resulted in little of its desired mobility goals. She makes a number of recommendations that could enable skills partnerships to achieve more consistent gains for migrants as well as countries of origin and destination.
The brief is the fifth in a series, “Towards the Global Compact for Migration: A Development Perspective,” that results from a partnership between MPI and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, supported by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The series was created to provide evidence and policy ideas to inform negotiation and implementation of the global compact.
Read the series here: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/international-program/global-compact-migration.
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The Migration Policy Institute (MPI) is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank in Washington, DC dedicated to analysis of the movement of people worldwide. MPI provides analysis, development and evaluation of migration and refugee policies at local, national and international levels.