Re-thinking approaches to labour migration: Potentials and gaps in four EU member states’ migration infrastructures

With ICMPD’s Migration Partnership Facility (MPF), ECDPM’s Anna Knoll and Jamie Slater undertook a study on EU approaches to labour migration, with a particular focus on the EU’s talent partnerships. They analysed the labour market needs and migration systems of four EU member states – Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal – to see how prepared they are for the growing need for workers.

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    About the study

    Europe’s working-age population is declining. Employers in EU member states face large and persistent skill and labour shortages in a range of high- and mid-skill professions and in diverse sectors ranging from construction over care to information technology. Against a background of growing economic needs, the recruitment of foreign workers to the EU has increased in importance as one of the strategies to fill labour market shortages. At the same time, migration remains a sensitive political topic and levels of socio-political acceptance for an increase in labour immigration varies across member states.

    The EU has developed the framework for talent partnerships to respond to these dynamics. These are presented as a policy tool that can help member states to benefit from international mobility and to better match labour market needs with foreign skills. How to utilise and advance the talent partnerships within the context of national migration systems is however not always obvious. It requires not only legal migration systems that can provide for efficient and effective access to legal migration routes but also a link between labour market assessments and the identification of current and future migration needs as well as information on skill profiles of partner countries.

    The MPF and ECDPM have been mapping labour market needs and analysed national migration systems of four EU member states (Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal) with the aim to investigate how prepared the respective infrastructures are to respond to growing needs for workers. We were interested in understanding how existing modalities and labour migration pathways could be utilised pragmatically in the context of establishing talent partnerships as well as where gaps and possibilities for adaptations lie.

    Shorter digests of each country case study are available below, along with an overarching policy brief which analyses the findings from all case studies.

    Policy brief

    In the policy brief, Anna Knoll, Jamie Slater, Niklas Mayer and Agnieszka Kulesa summarise their work on legal labour migration pathways and their use in Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal. They suggest ways to better serve the needs of the respective labour markets and explore the potential of migration and mobility pilots in the context of the EU talent partnerships.

    Read the policy brief

    Estonia case study

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    Read the Estonia case study Read the case study summary

    The Netherlands case study

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    Read the Netherlands case study Read the case study summary

    Poland case study

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    Read the Poland case study Read the case study summary

    Portugal case study

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    Read the Portugal case study Read the case study summary

    More information

    For more information about the study, get in touch with Anna Knoll or Jamie Slater, or have a look at the website of the Migration Partnership Facility.

    All our work on labour mobility

    To see all our work on labour mobility, take a look at our topic page.

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