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Skills Dimension of Migration: Perspectives from the ETF Partner Countries

Migration event

Wprn: WP15-40-18-EMPL

This conference was organised as part of EU Eastern Partnership (EaP) Platform 2 dialogue, focusing on six EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine). It aimed to promote exchange of knowledge and experiences for informed policy making among the ETF Partner Countries on how skills development and employment policies can contribute to the better management of circular migration. For mutual learning, the Southern Mediterranean countries which recently signed the Mobility Partnership agreement with the EU (Morocco, Tunisia and Jordan) and others who started or might soon start similar migration dialogue (Lebanon and Egypt) were also invited. In addition, representatives from the EU Member States, relevant EC services and institutions, the international organisations, research institutes and/or Member State agencies who work on migration and development issues were invited to the conference.


The ETF partner countries are primarily emigration countries due to many factors including difficult labour market conditions. This high labour mobility across borders increasingly puts education and training systems under pressure to produce qualified human resources both for domestic and foreign labour markets. On the other hand, imperfect labour markets and asymmetric information prevents the full use of migrant skills both in countries of origin and destination. Therefore, skills development and employment policies might take ‘migration’ into account for better use of potential and returning migrants at both ends of migration.


This conference originated within the framework of the EU external migration policy , linked to the Mobility Partnerships (MP) signed between the EU and Moldova (2008), Georgia (2009), Armenia (2011), Morocco (2013), Azerbaijan (2013), Tunisia (2014) and Jordan (2014). The MP negotiations with Belarus are currently ongoing, while a dialogue with Lebanon started last December and may lead to signing a MP in 2016. It is not yet clear when a dialogue with Egypt will start. Considering some of the repeated themes of the new European Agenda on Migration just published in May (e.g. the need to fill skill needs, facilitating job-matching for third country nationals and recognition of migrants’ qualifications), shifting the attention to the skills development agenda can provide more fruitful results for migration management.


A global inventory of migrant support measures from the employment and skills perspective (MISMES) and country case studies made by the ETF were presented and discussed at the conference. In line with ETF’s mandate as a specialised agency of the European Union working in transition and developing countries, the conference focussed on the role of countries of origin in pre-departure preparation of potential migrants, reintegration of returnees, and the transparency and portability of skills.
The ETF work proves that policy measures for improving skills utilisation and skills enhancement are often the missing link, although they are key instruments to overcoming labour market integration problems and skills mismatches in both countries of origin and destination. Special attention is required to the qualifications of migrants/ returnees to make their skills more ‘visible, readable and portable’ regardless of how they have been learnt (formal, non-formal, informal). Skills partnerships across the countries of origin and destination through investment in education and training systems of partner countries to improve access and quality, could be part of effective migration management strategy, especially in sectors of high labour mobility.


The aim of the conference was to present and discuss successful policy measures, lessons learnt and good practices targeting migrants and returnees from the employment and skills prospective, creating a mutual learning platform for an ‘informed policy-making’. The results of ETF MISMES inventory and country case studies will be the basis of these facilitated discussions, with a particular focus given to the role of origin countries in pre- and post-migration phases (both pre-departure preparation and reintegration of returnees) and measures for transparency and portability of skills including in the VET sector. This will create a unique opportunity to share the experiences among all the European neighbourhood countries in their implementation of the Mobility Partnership with a particular focus on the link between skills development and migration.


The conference included the following four sessions, each designed to stimulate a discussion around the specific questions asked.


Session 1: Perspectives from the ETF Partner Countries (East) – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Republic of Moldova and Ukraine
Participants discussed measures (e.g. preparing potential migrants; reintegrating returnees; transparency and portability of skills ) are implemented in their country and how the Mobility Partnerships can support their implementation


Session 2: Perspectives from the ETF Partner Countries (South) – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia
Participants discussed which measures (e.g. preparing potential migrants; reintegrating returnees; transparency and portability of skills ) are implemented in their country and how the Mobility Partnerships can support their implementation.


Session 3: Examples on partnership for skills development and/or recognition
Participants discussed how more partnerships for skills development between the countries of origin and destination can be promoted


Session 4: Global Perspectives
Participants discussed how to enhance coordination between migration and development cooperation agenda and how to support partnerships for skills development as part of migration management

Type of Event: Operational
Place: Brussels (Belgium)
Date: 09/15/2015
Topic(s): Skills and migration; equal access to education
Project: WP15-40-18-EMPL
Organiser: Ummuhan Bardak, Sara Rinaldi ;
Contacts: Ummuhan Bardak, Sara Rinaldi;


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