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Veit Mette

, Study: Working together for a triple win: Creating fair migration through bilateral agreements

Germany's populations shrinks and gets older. Therefore the country will also need skilled employees from developing and threshold countries soon. A new study shows how migration can be designed in a way that homecountry, country of arrival and the immigrant benefit from it. 

In Germany, the current debate on migration is dominated by issues associated with asylum-seekers. A missing aspect in this debate is Germany's need for sound economic migration policies in order to ensure long-term prosperity. In both the medium and long term, Germany will face an increasing need for immigration. According to calculations by experts at the Nuremberg-based Institute for Employment Research (IAB), without net migration, Germany's potential labor force (i.e., the currently employed, unemployed and the "hidden reserve") will shrink from the current 45 million to 29 million by 2050. But from which countries should Germany recruit skilled labor? The full potential of migration can be realized only when the labor market needs in destination countries are considered together with the development opportunities inherent to migration. For source countries, migration can support development through benefits such as remittance income, transfers of knowledge and social resources as well as investment. The so-called triple win approach to migration can ensure fair outcomes for everyone involved. Bilateral agreements in which partner countries are selected on the basis of transparent, development-oriented criteria are a key instrument in targeting triple win outcomes.

Catalogue of criteria identifies source countries and additional measures required

Janina Brennan and Anna Wittenborg from Germany's GIZ (Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit) identify in their study "Gemeinsam zum Triple Win: Faire Gewinnung von Fachkräften aus Entwicklungs- und Schwellenländern" the criteria for Germany to consider in selecting appropriate source countries as part of a triple win approach. These criteria include demographic aspects, economic and labor market factors, operationally robust and transparent administrative structures, the extent to which migrants' qualifications are compatible with German labor market needs, the country's relationship with Germany and its government’s willingness to cooperate. Finally, it is crucial that source countries have the instruments to foster the development benefits of migration.

The study tests this catalog of criteria by assessing eight countries from around the globe in terms of these criteria: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Georgia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, the Phillippines and Tunisia. The study shows that countries such as Colombia, India, Mexico, the Phillipines and Tunisia are appropriate partners with respect to labor migration. This is, however, limited to professions in which the source country has a surplus of skilled labor. Countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia or Nigeria, by contrast, have considerable deficits that would likely render migration cooperation ineffective without targeted support in areas such as education and vocational training. In the case of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the country's demographics must be considered. Currently, the country has a surplus of skilled labor in the long-term care sector. However, as a result of demographic aging, the demand for these workers will grow in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Global Skill Partnerships and global dialogue foster fair migration

Global Skill Partnerships between source and destination countries are a particularly promising instrument in creating fair migration. As a specific kind of bilateral agreement, these partnerships involve specialists being trained in one of the two countries, some of which then emigrate to the partner country while others remain in the country where they were trained. The number of skilled workers thus increases in both countries. 

In addition, given the international controversy regarding labor mobility, more should be done to actively promote global dialogue on ensuring fairness in maintaining skilled labor levels. Germany in particular, as one of the most important destination countries for skilled labor, must do more to promote this dialogue.

Please find the complete study (in German) on the right side.


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Study: The labor market will need more immigration from non-EU countries in the future