The number of migrants looking to move overseas for work has dramatically decreased, primarily because of the economic crisis, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Develpoment.
The OECD says migrant workers are getting a raw deal
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)reports ín its outlook for 2010 that the fallout of the financial crisis has led to particularly high unemployment, making it significantly harder for migrants to find work in a foreign country often without a safety net to support them.
The flow of migrants worldwide fell by 6 percent in 2008 compared with past years which saw an average annual rise of 11 per cent.
The drop means some 4.4 million fewer people moving around the world, according to the OECD report. The OECD's Angel Gurria told Deutsche Welle that the financial crisis had made dealing with global labor market trends harder.
"We have the very important potential impact of ageing. And of course we have to go for every single measure that can improve productivity," he said. "And there is also the very obvious recommendation that you should have every able single hand on deck, as the marines say."
The OECD is trying to persuade national governments that immigration is essential for their economies, because additional workers are needed to maintain growth and prosperity.
Migration boosts economies
The EU's home affairs commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, said governments needed to acknowledge how important labor migration is.
"It will vary a little bit between the countries but we will have a continuous stable need for work force. And this will not be satisfied only through EU nationals," she said.
"A long-term legal migration policy that is well organized will continue to pay a very important role in filling the labor gaps within the EU and meeting the demographic challenges."
The OECD says the economic crisis has left many migrants exposed and vulnerable. The European Commission has proposed new legislation to protect seasonal workers, saying low-skilled workers coming to Europe are often exploited.
Future generations should be allowed to reach full potential
Another proposal is to get companies outside the EU to transfer specialized employees for short stints. That way European companies would benefit from attracting highly-skilled professionals with few strings attached.
According to the EU's employment commissioner, Laszlo Anders, immigrants have tended to be disproportionately over-represented in certain industries, like construction, making them especially vulnerable in the economic downturn.
"It's important to get rid of stereotypes and fight the assumptions which are not really supported by evidence," he said. "And it's very important to do work on this side, on the area of communication, in order to stress that Europe is not a fortress."
The OECD says few unemployed migrants are returning home. It also notes that in some countries there has been an increase in employment rates among immigrant women, who took up extra work after their husbands lost their jobs.
Migrants in Germany to be promoted
EU's Malmstom says the 27-nation block needs a long-term migration policy
Faced with a sharp drop in the number of skilled workers in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel's government and the Federal Labor Agency have proposed ways of promoting migrants' qualifications. Statistics show that the qualifications levels among young people with migration backgrounds are far too low.
Maria Boehmer, the government official responsible for migration, says that too many foreigners are currently employed in jobs below their qualifications. The CDU politician has announced that she would be proposing draft legislation by the end of the year that would speed up and simplify recognition of foreign academic qualifications.
The opposition Green Party has urged the center-right governing coalition to make it easier for foreigners living in Germany to obtain German citizenship. It argues that citizenship tests should be abolished and that it should be generally possible for people becoming Germans to retain their original citizenship.
Author: Nina-Maria Potts (nrt)
Editor: Chuck Penfold