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Reducing pain of job market revolution requires joint action by migration and employment officials, says MPI Europe report
Press Release
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Reducing pain of job market revolution requires joint action by migration and employment officials, says MPI Europe report

BRUSSELS — Millions of workers, including many migrants, will need help to cope with rapid shifts in the job market brought by automation and other transformations. Efforts to integrate immigrants should go hand in hand with employment reforms to assist all vulnerable groups, Migration Policy Institute Europe argues in Jobs in 2028: How will changing labour markets affect immigrant integration in Europe?  

Workers whose jobs are being automated or outsourced, along with older people and women, often face the same challenges as migrants—not least the need to retrain, the report argues. If governments want to support these people, they will need to radically rethink their social protection and employment systems.

“As governments position themselves to capitalize on labor-market change, strong foresight and strategy in government, alongside cross-portfolio cooperation, will be needed to ensure these changes will be a windfall rather than a blight for immigrant and native-born workers alike,” write Meghan Benton and Liam Patuzzi.

One of the options on the table is a minimum basic income—an initiative already piloted in Finland and gaining traction at EU level. This could allow governments to promote alternatives to traditional work, such as volunteering, and ensure that everyone, even those with low skills and multiple barriers to work, has the chance to meaningfully contribute. Other proposals discussed include personal training accounts to encourage all workers to keep their skills up to date, and programs to help freelancers keep their income steady and save for their retirement.

The report considers several scenarios that could play out over the next decade—from a dystopian vision of a society polarized by huge inequality and dwindling job opportunities, to a government-driven tech utopia where proactive policies foster inclusion and security, to a decentralized entrepreneurial boom where individuals and communities take the lead.

The authors argue that migrants could suffer undue hardship in some of these scenarios, with a rise in precarious and exploitative work. But in other scenarios, migrants with entrepreneurial ambitions could flourish.

“We are used to hearing economists debate how many jobs will be lost to robots in the coming years,” said Benton, who is a senior policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute. “What we hear less about is how these labour market shifts might affect growing numbers of vulnerable newcomers, such as refugees or unskilled migrants. We don’t want to see a situation where people already struggling to find work are essentially locked out of the main labour market, with their only option low-quality, precarious jobs or even working in the informal economy.”

The report was produced for MPI Europe’s Integration Futures Working Group. Supported by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Working Group is seeking to develop a fresh agenda for integration policy in Europe by bringing together senior integration policymakers and experts, civil-society officials and private-sector leaders to create a platform for long-term strategic and creative thinking.

Read the report and earlier ones in the series here: www.migrationpolicy.org/programs/integration-futures-working-group.

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MPI Europe provides authoritative research and practical policy design to governmental and nongovernmental stakeholders who seek more effective management of immigration, immigrant integration and asylum systems, as well as better outcomes for newcomers, families of immigrant background and receiving communities throughout Europe. MPI Europe also provides a forum for the exchange of information on migration and immigrant integration practices within the European Union and Europe more generally. For more, visit www.mpieurope.org.