With the growing integration of the world’s economies, labour migration, too, increasingly takes place on a global scale. The movement of people across borders confronts all parties- senders, receivers and of course migrants – with serious political, economic and social challenges. In Europe, for example, one of the main obstacles remains the resistance of its member states against the further coordination of migration policies by the EU.
Against this background mobility and inclusion provide a different perspective from which this complex of issues related to migration can be approached responsibly and effectively, both as criteria and goals for constructive policies: Concerning issues of migration, mobility not only refers to the ability and willingness, for migrants to move places for employment, but ensuring the right to mobility. Inclusion, on the other hand, refers to the responsibility of receiving states to assist migrants in their efforts integrating into society. This expressively also pertains to residents with migration background whose potential has long been neglected and their opportunities for (social) mobility within resident societies often denied.
The year 2009 saw a number of significant decisions: The approval of the “Blue Card Directive” in May 2009 by the European Council opens doors and chances for highly- skilled migrants from third countries facilitating conditions of free entry, movement, and residence when recruited for work in the European Union. Nonetheless, this generally positive development triggers a number of questions: If Western Europe is desperate for qualified professionals, why is immigration still so rigidly restricted in some countries? Who decides which professional sector has priority for entry, and by what criteria? What about medium and low skilled workers who are equally high in demand?
In Germany, a first step has been taken to confront deskilling and brain waste: The opposition parties in the Bundestag proposed a bill for the entitlement for the recognition of foreign qualifications, which was met favourably by the governing coalition. Migrants must have access to opportunities working in their trained professions or undertaking further qualifications to do so. Too often especially females are devalued and discriminated against on the labour market despite their competences. But also skilled males with migrant background are affected.
Another group of highly-skilled, whose potential has been disregarded, are international students. Germany’s attractiveness as a place for further education is increasing. But instead of giving graduates the option to stay, non-EU citizens are sent back to their home countries. That way their competences and the education invested into them are lost and a reasonable demand-oriented labour immigration policy thwarted.
While migration within Europe has simplified since the last wave of the EU enlargement, expanding Europe’s borders leaves more room for mobility, but neglects the psychological and economic burden. The vulnerability of migrants becomes even more acute in times of crisis, such as the global financial and economic crisis. Even more affected are irregular migrants who constantly live in fear of being discovered and sent home. What are their hopes and destinies?
In any case, it should not be forgotten that migrants are not just mobile human capital but human beings who take risks in search for a better life. Migrants do not only fill gaps due to Europe’s lack of qualified and rapidly aging workforce; social factors have to be taken into account as well.
Alongside the international conference “Mobility and Inclusion- Highly-Skilled Labour Migration in Eu-rope” this dossier collects solution- oriented articles shedding light on several aspects of labour migration, amongst others questions of protectionism, demographic change and labour market dynamics. Beyond all differences it should be affirmed that migration and the “battle for talents” must not degenerate into an exploitative process, but must aspire to create win-win situations for senders, receivers and the migrants themselves.
The Dossier is edited by Omolara Farinde. Editor in charge: Olga Drossou, Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.