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Migrant workers vital for global job markets: Report

By Majd Othman


KUWAIT: World Bank Group in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Supreme Council for Planning and Development organized a press conference to announce launching the World Bank Development Report 2023, titled “Migrants, Refugees, and Societies” at the General Secretariat headquarter.

Speakers included Chief Economist and Co-Director of the World Development Report Caglar Ozden, speakers from the World Bank-Kuwait office, National Diwan for Human Rights, UNHCR, International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Labor Organization (ILO) and officials from the government, in addition to representatives of the private sector, civil society and diplomatic and academic bodies in Kuwait.

This year, the report discusses the issue of migrants, as it is considered one of the most important and time-sensitive issue that is facing the world. Statically, the report showed people who don’t have the nationality of the country they are living in amount to about 184 million people around the world, including 37 million immigrants, while 43 percent of them live in countries with low and medium wages.

Globally, migrants are being defined as people who were born outside their countries, while this report opposes this definition, showing that people who were born outside their countries and got naturalized shouldn’t be considered as migrants as they enjoy the same rights original citizens have.

On the other hand, it showed that rapid demographic change is making migrants increasingly necessary for countries at all income levels. High-income countries are ageing rapidly. So are middle-income countries, which get old before they get rich. The population of low-income countries is booming, but young people are entering the workforce without the skills needed in the global labor market. These trends will spark global competition for workers.

Regarding international competition over attracting migrants, the report indicated these workers are increasingly important for countries. Countries with high and medium wages are rapidly ageing, unlike countries that have weak wages, where the number of young people is increasing but without having good skills required for the international labor market. Therefore, this will boost global demand for skilled migrants.

The report also showed the importance of creating laws and legislations that meet the proficiency of migrants and the needs of destination countries, and the motivation behind migrants moving to other countries. It added that if migrants and moving to other countries due to justified fear, or as immigrants, they should have the right to have international protection.

Meanwhile, the report reached several conclusions, saying when migrants’ skills are identical to the host country, it will benefit all parties, whether these migrants are highly or mediumly skilled, regular or irregular. The report showed that when the skills are weak, the costs should be divided on everyone or at least reduced, as the situation of migrants will continue for years.

It pointed out that when the situation is weak and people are not refugees, difficult political challenges arise, especially when migration is in irregular and in frustrating conditions. Then the host countries have the right to regulate the entry of migrants, but deportation and denial of entry can lead to inhumane treatment.

It also added that countries of origin should actively manage migrants for development. They must make migration an explicit part of their development strategies. Destination countries can also manage migrants more strategically. It should use “robust” immigration to meet its labor needs and facilitate the integration of migrants, while addressing the social impacts that raise concerns among their citizens.

Finally, the report stressed international cooperation is essential to transform the migrant workforce into a powerful force for development. Bilateral cooperation can further align migrants with the needs of destination countries.

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