Recruiting Immigrant Workers

2225-7969 (online)
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This series considers labour migration policies in OECD countries. It examines whether labour migration policy is effective and efficient. Each study in the series covers a specific country. Each looks at discretionary labour migration – that is, labour migration movements over which policy has direct, immediate oversight – focusing on two key areas: the country’s labour migration system and its characteristics; and the extent to which policy is responding to the needs of the domestic labour market and its impact on the latter.

Recruiting Immigrant Workers: Europe 2016

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07 June 2016
9789264257290 (PDF) ;9789264257283(print)

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The OECD series Recruiting Immigrant Workers comprises country studies of labour migration policies. Each volume analyses whether migration policy is being used effectively and efficiently to help meet labour needs, without adverse effects on labour markets. It focuses mainly on regulated labour migration movements over which policy has immediate and direct oversight. This particular volume looks at the efficiency of European Union instruments for managing labour migration.

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  • Foreword and acknowledgements

    At a time when the attention of policy makers and public opinion is so focused on the humanitarian refugee crisis, it might appear odd to consider issues of legal migration. The urgency of the humanitarian crisis faced by Europe and the need for a common, bold and comprehensive response from Member States do not, however, diminish the importance of addressing the challenges related to the management of legal labour migration in Europe. This Review of Labour Migration Policy in Europe seeks to contribute to thinking on one of the current Commission’s priorities – namely, how best to manage labour migration in the context of population ageing and the global competition for skills.

  • Assessment and recommendations

    In 2015, the number of refugees and asylum seekers entering Europe hit record levels with inflows of more than one million people – and more than 180 000 in the first four months of 2016 alone. Europe has both the capacity and the experience to rise to the challenge, yet such unprecedented numbers in so short a time span have placed great strain on infrastructure There has also been a powerful impact on public opinion, which remains very sensitive to refugee and migration issues. As a result, policy attention has been devoted mostly to addressing the refugee crisis.

  • Executive summary

    More than 1 million immigrants come to the European Union each year, more than to any single OECD destination country. The number of people born outside Europe living in the EU rose faster in the 2000s than in the previous decade. The European Union is facing impending skills shortages in a number of areas and Member States, but labour migration has only been a fraction of total migration, and the share of migrants with high levels of skills and qualifications is smaller than in many other OECD destinations, despite recent improvements. Individual EU Member States have developed policies to compete in the global market for skills, but more needs to be done at the EU level to ensure that labour migration yields more than just the sum of these individual efforts.

  • The context for labour migration in Europe

    The context underlying labour migration in the European Union is economic, demographic and political in nature. Regarding the first point, there are wide variations among Member States in growth and in the current employment situation. Overall the working-age population is peaking or starting to decline, although this effect also varies. Despite these differences, there are some common challenges and common principles. The political competence at the EU level is to achieve added value in areas of shared interest. EU labour migration policy is not the sum of the individual Member States’ decisions but a legislative framework to achieve common goals through concerted measures. It is rooted in a long-standing commitment to favouring mobility of workers and to ensuring their rights. Broad agreement EU-wide on basic rights and principles of equal treatment have allowed progress in this area. Regarding labour migration admission conditions and criteria, there have been specific measures leading to a fragmented rather than a broad labour migration framework. National systems evolved through very different processes and priorities, not all of which have converged.

  • How attractive is the European Union to skilled migrants?

    This chapter looks at where the European Union stands in the global competition for skills. It examines the EU’s share of global migration stocks and flows relative to other OECD destinations. The chapter also looks at survey data on how EU Member States are perceived in relation to other potential destinations, considering how attractive they are and examining the opinions of residents, employers and potential migrants. The perception in EU Member States is that the immigration laws are not restrictive, but foreign talents are not sufficiently attracted to EU Member States. Overall, the European Union has to catch up with other OECD countries. Finally, there appears to be a large pool of talent interested in migrating to EU Member States that is much more extensive than the current flows. Relative to its size, however, the EU continues to play an undersized role in labour migration and in the growing migration of skilled individuals.

  • Where does the European Union bring added value in labour migration?

    This chapter looks at looks at practices and policy areas where the EU can bring added value to labour migration. The first section considers EU-level measures to make EU Member States more attractive to migrants, especially by improving and supporting labour migration channels. The chapter then goes on to consider EU-level action to improve mobility, particularly among long-term migrant residents. The question of the recognition of foreign qualifications is the subject of the following section. The chapter then goes on to consider EU-level action in matching the right candidates with the right jobs, focusing on the political aspects of labour market tests and their coverage. International co-operation comes next, a policy area where the EU can bring clear strong, added value. Finally, the chapter looks at how EU-level action can prevent competition between Member States for migrant workers from leading to a collapse in standards and how it can foster innovative practices, information sharing, the equal treatment of workers, and simpler administrative procedures.

  • What have EU labour migration Directives changed and how can they be improved?

    A number of EU Directives governing labour migration have been transposed in the past ten years. Transposition has not been identical in all Member States and the differences have led to a piecemeal approach to policy reflected in national regulations. Nonetheless, the Directives transposed so far have created a foundation for European labour migration policy. This chapter examines how they have changed legislation in EU Member States, how they have brought added value, and how they can be improved. It looks at the labour migration Directives that have been transposed, examining how they have changed the rules for the governance of migration in individual Member States and the extent to which they have produced a better harmonised labour migration policy. The chapter concludes with a discussion of what measures and modifications could help the Directives achieve their general and specific goals.

  • What is missing from the EU labour migration policy framework?

    This chapter looks at what is missing from EU-level interventions in the light of policy developments inside and outside the European Union and how to fill and structure those gaps. It looks at how the European Union could play a role in increasing pools of candidates and improving the recognition of foreign qualifications. The chapter also looks at the EU’s direct involvement in the selection of migrant candidates. It explores categories in the sector-based approach which have not been addressed – e.g. investors and entrepreneurs, including start-ups, exceptional talents and different occupations. The chapter assesses cross-cutting measures that are yet to be taken and could improve the effectiveness of current migration systems. They include standard application forms, EU-wide labour market tests and priority at border crossings. The chapter considers efforts to reduce the costs that migrants incur, then goes on to conclude.

  • Recommendations for EU labour migration policy

    This chapter concludes the report with some policy recommendations. It opens with general and systemic recommendations on the EU-level migration framework, types of migration and categories of migrant. It provides recommendations on sector-based policy approaches and how to build on current legislation, including possible changes in the overall legislative approach and the creation of a space for pilot schemes. It provides specific recommendations to improve the EU Blue Card. The chapter then makes recommendations for clarifying and simplifying procedures; improving information, communication and awarenessraising; and positioning the EU as a labour migration destination. Finally, it discusses how to involve more EU Member States and strengthen co-operation with third countries.

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