Labour and skills shortages are expected to rise in the European Union over the short to medium term, in parallel with unemployment rates. These trends challenge the economic growth prospects of the EU and the objective of a job-rich recovery as outlined in the European Commission Employment Package. International migration is seen as part of the employment policy package sicne it can contribute to meeting emerging skills shortages both through the recruitment of skillful economic migrants and through a better labour market integration of immigrants already resident in the EU. However, persisting labour market bottlenecks related to access to information hamper the matching between employers’ needs and migrant skills and, thus, need to be tackled.
Even in those member states in which legal channels for labour migration rely on employers’ requests, challenges in sourcing the necessary employees from abroad exist due to information barriers. On the demand side, employers – and SMEs in particular – may find difficulties in accessing information on the functioning of the procedures to recruit from abroad and on the availability of migration candidates with the appropriate skills to match their labour needs. Specific difficulties may be encountered in recruiting migrants on a temporary basis (e.g. for seasonal employment or in the case of intra-corporate transfer). Such information barriers, and the costs related to them, partly explain frequent recourse to network-based recruitment practices, which, however, may not represent the most efficient recruitment strategy in terms of job-skills matching and productivity outcomes. On the supply side, prospective labour migrants often lack knowledge on legal migration channels and on the specific labour market requirements in destination countries. Limited access to networks, diversity-related issues in workplace environment and discrimination may also result in information barriers hampering the possibilities for migration candidates with appropriate skills to come to the EU to fill unmet labour shortages. Even though information barriers are higher in the case of sourcing from abroad, obstacles of access to information on, respectively, available job opportunities and suitable candidates as well as information deficiencies attributable to perceptions and behavioural factors also exist for the recruitment of resident immigrants. Those obstacles may hamper the full utilization of the skills of immigrants already in the EU.
In order to exchange views on the evidence on the impact that such bottlenecks have on the labour market integration of migrants and for meeting labour shortages by employers, as well as to assess and propose appropriate policy responses, the IOM Independent Network of Labour Migration and Integration Experts (LINET) will hold a one-day expert seminar on Improving Access to Labour Market Integration for Migrants and Employers in Brussels on 6 November 2012. The seminar, which is supported by DG Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission, is seen as part of the European Commission Stakeholder Consultation devoted to Economic Migration and Employment.
The preliminary findings of the IOM LINET study which investigated existing practices of access to, use and perception of labour market information by both employers and migrants in the LINET target countries will serve as the basis for the stakeholder debate among speakers and participants from 27 EU Member States, the United States and Canada as well as Croatia, Norway and Turkey who represent the EU institutions, national governments, social partners, business and experts.