Skills for migrant workers

The relationship between migration and skills development proves to be a complex one. Migration can be a means to respond timely and effectively to labour supply and demand needs, to stimulate innovation and development in countries of origin and destination, as well as to transfer or up-date skills. Migrants, at all skills levels, broaden the pool of available skills, thereby improving the international flow of talent and economy wide skills matching. Nevertheless, migrant workers face various challenges in accessing quality training and decent jobs, such as under-utilization of skills, lack of training and employment opportunities, lack of information and exploitation of low-skilled workers. To reap the benefits of migration, countries thus need to ensure that migration is demand-oriented, that migrant workers’ rights are protected, and must enable migrants to integrate into the labour market and society through access to education and training, as well as to employment opportunities.

Important avenues of intervention comprise: designing and implementing sound labour market information systems, including accurate labour market needs assessment and skills anticipation that inform migration policies; increasing migrants’ access to education and training; establishing systems for the recognition of formally certified qualifications as well as informally acquired skills, ensuring coherence between skills, employment and migration policies; and fostering skills partnerships between countries of origin and destination.

Migrants are a heterogeneous population. Besides differing in age, gender, cultural background, education and skill level, the challenges that migrants face vary by migration corridors. To address these challenges, the ILO’s complementary research and technical assistance on Skills and Migration focusses on the most promising policy options to improve the employment outlook for migrants: