The Way Forward on Migration – May 18, 2017

B20 Urges Employer-Friendly Migration Reform

I was honored to participate in an event this week where business and labor leaders from the world’s 20 largest economies (the B20 and the L20) presented joint recommendations to our labor ministers (the G20).  This joint declaration flowed out of work each group has done independently over the past five months to develop policy solutions that ensure that all people have the opportunity for decent work in our changing world.  This demands reform of our education and training systems – including, apprenticeships, vocational training and lifelong learning – as well as changes to our legal frameworks to provide flexible work arrangements that optimize the use of digitization.

One of the key things the B20 Employment and Education Taskforce said the governments should do is “bring labor migration policies in line with labor market needs including those of enterprises.”  This includes setting up “easy-to-understand, employment-friendly immigration law which allows easy access to the formal labor market and reduces incentives for informality.” The B20 recognized that open, dynamic and inclusive labor markets are key to economic growth and competitiveness.   They noted that “geographical mobility is not an end in itself but should serve an important purpose: improve the ability to fill positions with workers who have the necessary skills,” and that “structural and legal barriers” that inhibit mobility will need to be removed.

While this may be easier said than done in the current political environment in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe, time is of the essence.  A survey released this week by the Canadian Employee Relocation Council, with support from CFGI, shows that the willingness of people in over 20 countries to move abroad for work has decreased over the past five years with fewer than 1 in 5 “very likely” to relocate abroad.  This number increases as more incentives are offered which may mean that global firms will have to pay more to attract top talent. While the United States remains the most popular destination, Canada is gaining in attractiveness due, in part, to its friendliness toward immigrants.  

I look forward to seeing which final action items are adopted by the G20 heads of state when they meet in July.  I hope that they will follow the B20’s lead and include migration on their list.


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