An enabling environment in the context of legal and labour migration refers to broad social systems that govern multi-stakeholder engagement in labour mobility, such as rules, laws, policies, social norms, or institutional frameworks in migration. Though this list is not exhaustive – as enabling environments are highly contextual and vary from country to country – the presence of an enabling environment is crucial to the implementation of labour migration initiatives. Therefore, this series aims to identify several key features of an enabling environment for labour migration through MPF’s experience in implementing labour migration pilot projects.
Case Study 1: Digital Explorers
Digital Explorers is a labour mobility scheme that brings young ICT (information and communications technology) specialists from Nigeria to Lithuania for a career advancement programme. As the project approaches the closure of its first phase, it acts as a case to confirm that an enabling environment not only reduces operational and policy level barriers in labour mobility schemes, but also incentivises key stakeholders to join them.
From the very beginning of the project, the Digital Explorers team engaged Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs very closely, namely advocating for the need to address bottlenecks in obtaining entry permits to Lithuania for third country nationals. As a result, the project accelerated the establishment of a direct consular relationship between Nigeria and Lithuania, and also led to the setup of two visa centres in Nigeria – one in Abuja and one in Lagos. These achievements would speed up procedures to obtain visas not only for this particular project, but also for other legal migration initiatives to come in the future.
More recently, a Lithuanian ICT company that participated in the Digital Explorers opened their branch in Abuja. While this can be seen as a corporate investment in Nigeria which can offer more job opportunities for local talents, it can also positively feed into broader social norms around labour mobility, especially for the private sector. In fact, ICT companies were relatively unaware of the possibility of partnerships with Nigerian stakeholders when the project started, and even when presented with the opportunity they perceived it as a “high-stakes business decision.” Through close monitoring of companies’ experiences in the labour migration scheme for the past three years, the project has not only managed to realise such a possibility but also extend that into employment opportunities for talents in Nigeria. The case of a European company taking one step further to open their branch in Abuja can serve as a working model for other private stakeholders to follow suit and join labour migration projects, which builds the foundations for future projects’ endeavours to convince and on board private companies.
Case Study 2: PALIM
PALIM offered training to young Moroccan graduates in the Belgian ICT sector. The mobility scheme aimed to enhance cooperation between Moroccan and Belgian public employment organisations and strengthen their capacity to reap the benefits of labour migration. The project’s joint implementation among multiple partners is a case that shows how capacity development for partners contribute to an enabling environment for labour migration.
Engaging closely with ANAPEC’s (National Agency for Promotion of Employment and Skills of Morocco) International Placement Directorate (IDP), which had relatively less experience in mobility of workers in the ICT sector, PALIM took the opportunity to strengthen existing resources of ANAPEC. Capacity building took place through seminars, exchange trips and working meetings for public and private stakeholders who worked in similar areas in both countries. In the end, evaluations show that ANAPEC was able to enhance its understanding of the demands of employers in the Moroccan and Belgian ICT sector, training for identified talent profiles, and the recognition of ICT talents’ skills upon their return. Such knowledge and capacity have become “well-anchored” assets that remain with Moroccan partners in the long-term, creating an enabling environment to design and refine future labour mobility schemes.