Labour migration expanding in OECD countries

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A better understanding of the links between migration and development is required to implement coherent and effective migration policies, outlines the OECD in its report, ‘International Migration Outlook’. The study shows that international migration continues to grow, in response to labour needs.

Surveys and statistic shows that permanent as well as temporary migration rates are on the rise and increased by 10% between 2004 and 2005. The highest flows of migrants were found in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom and Canada and the highest increases in Ireland, Korea and New Zealand. 

However, the report warns that there are also significant flows of illegal migration that are difficult to trace accurately. It argues that migration policies need to be ajusted in order to increase its benefits and reduce its costs. 

Another finding of the OECD report is that while migration for family reunification still dominates, labour migration is expanding and represents 30% of permanent immigrants. However, humanitarian migration has declined. In the context of EU enlargement, immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe have been increasing in recent years, the report notes. 

According to the study, there is a large under-utilisation of skills and qualifications of migrants while OECD countries are trying to attract and retain skilled migrants. Moreover, an OECD and WHO joint project showed that in 2000, 11% of nurses and 18% of doctors employed in the OECD countries were foreign-born. Co-operation policies who take into account the development problems in the countries of emigrants limit the risk of ‘brain-drain’, concludes the report. 

The report recommends to put more emphasis on the integration of immigrants and their children. Such an effort by governments would help immigrants assume their role in the growth of the labour force as they are part of labour market shortages and ageing populations, states the report. 

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