GFMD 2013-2014 Shows Ways to Promote Inclusive Development in Labour Migration and Diaspora Engagement

Geneva – 14 October 2013. On 11 September 2013, the Government of Sweden, current GFMD 2013-2014 Chair-in-Office, joined by the Governments of Morocco and Netherlands, convened a thematic meeting on “Labour Migration and Diaspora: Improving Labour Market Complementarities and Economic Development Outcomes, attended by over 130 policy-makers, government officials and representatives from international organizations and civil society.

The second GFMD 2013-2014 thematic meeting was structured around three panels. Panel I on Scene setters on labour migration and diaspora was chaired by Ambassador Jan Knutsson, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Sweden to the UN in Geneva, who underlined that the overall objective of the meeting was to identify adequate mechanisms and measures whereby labour migration and circular forms of mobility, diaspora entrepreneurship and investments can lead to more inclusive economic development outcomes for the migrants, employers and communities of both source and destination countries.

The keynote speaker, Mr. Stefano Scarpetta, Director, Employment, Labour and Social Affairs of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) believed that migration has the potential to strengthen and enhance the distribution of the economic benefits of globalization through two main channels -- better allocation of labour and leveraging the positive impacts of migration on trade. To make this happen, he underscored the need for good and reliable information on jobs and skills and cooperation of governments at the regional level. He mentioned the different initiatives that the OECD has been doing in assisting countries with their challenges in matching labour with actual demand, building databases especially for migrants going to the OECD countries, and helping countries engage with their diaspora more effectively. Hon. Abdelouahed Souhail, Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Morocco, shared his country’s experiences in labour migration as a sending, receiving and transit country. He also cited various programs and policies that the Moroccan Government has implemented to support its diaspora abroad. Ambassador Roderick van Schreven, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN in Geneva underscored the important role that entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises play in the national economy. In order to harness the positive impact of the diaspora, it is important for countries of origin and destination to cooperate and create favourable conditions for investment and diaspora empowerment.

Thematic Meeting 2Panel II on Recruitment, labour migration and labour matching, chaired by Mr. Abdelhalim El Fatihi of Morocco, explored the specific ways to improve international labour market complementarities through efficient systems of labour matching and cross border flow of skills. The first panelist, Ms. Manuela Tomei, Director, Conditions of Work and Employment Programme of the ILO highlighted the serious mismatch between qualifications of workers and needs at work due to problems with measurement of skills and/or inadequate formal qualifications. In this regard, she explained that ILO strives to embed measures of recognition of qualifications and certification in the wider context of training and educational systems. Mr. Alex Zalami, Adviser to the Minister of Labour of the UAE, recognized a fast solidifying global consensus that migration is a key driver of development. However, for migration to figure prominently and meaningfully in the post 2015 global development agenda, he believed that its development outcomes need to be amplified by the design and implementation of sound national policies and bilateral and multilateral collaborative schemes. He gave the example of the UAE in leveraging training, certification and recognition of employable skills of migrant workers. The third panelist, Ms. Jennifer Irish, Minister-Counsellor for Humanitarian Affairs and Migration Section, Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, Geneva, shared about Canada’s recent and upcoming reforms as well as lessons learned in regard to its economic immigration programmes. A common thread that runs through these initiatives is the crucial support needed from a broad range of partners to help temporary skilled workers and newcomers become productive and engaged citizens in jobs that are commensurate with their fields of training.

Panel III on Diaspora, skills transfers, investments and trade was chaired by Dr Reinout Vos, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the UN in Geneva and benefitted from the presentations of three panelists. According to Amb William Lacy Swing, Director General of the International Organization for Migration, a primary objective is to remove the obstacles to regular migration, so that job markets get filled, skills made available and economies flourish. He also referred to the 2013 World Migration Report of IOM on migrants’ well-being, and on how to engage, enable and empower them. He expressed the hope that the Global Forum will help promote a consensus among governments that diaspora builds bridges and that states can help the diaspora to contribute to development and offer support in times of crises. Mr. Legese Diro Bekele, expert from the Diaspora Affairs Directorate-General of Ethiopia, described the initiatives undertaken by Ethiopia in promoting diaspora investment, trade, skill and technology transfers which have contributed to the development of the country. Mr. Seydou Keita, Technical Counsellor of the Ministry of Malians Abroad and African Integration discussed the contributions that have been made by the Malian diaspora and the constraints facing them. He explained the various programs of the Malian government in overcoming hurdles and promoting diaspora investment and entrepreneurship, resulting in improved livelihoods of the people.

Each panel was followed by a discussion with the floor, which elicited many interesting comments, questions and examples of national practices on addressing labour migration and diaspora issues.

The concluding discussion was led by Ambassador Eva Åkerman Börje, Swedish GFMD Chair, who was greatly pleased that the outcomes of the thematic meeting would be very useful for the preparations of the Roundtable 2 sessions of the GFMD 2013-2014 meeting in Stockholm in May 2014. She appreciated the panel presentations and interventions from the floor which demonstrated how labour migration and circular forms of mobility as well as diaspora entrepreneurship and investments can facilitate inclusive economic development outcomes. She emphasized the important role that governments play in unlocking the potentials of labour migration and diaspora engagement to contribute to improved human resource management, job creation and economic growth.

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