Making Refugee Talent Visible and Accessible to EU Labour Markets through Refugee Labour Mobility

The headlines are filled with news of labour shortages, as employers report needs in nearly all industries and at various skill levels. The global ‘race for talent’ is set to heat up, with employers and countries increasingly vying for international workers as one way to meet labour needs. Why not include refugees in the search for needed talent?

 This is the premise of an EU-funded MPF project that launched earlier this year, Making refugee talent visible and accessible to EU labour markets – tapping into the potential of skills-based complementary pathways. Complementary pathways provide an opportunity for displaced persons to utilise their skills through migration channels for work, matching the skills of displaced persons with the needs of employers in other countries. This project is examining how complementary labour pathways can be expanded, for the benefit of displaced persons, EU labour markets, and host countries alike – a ‘triple win’.

 Untapped refugee talent

Displaced people are often portrayed as dependent and in need of protection. What is typically overlooked: They have their own ambitions, education, and skills that they can contribute – when given the chance. However, they often cannot use their skills in first countries of asylum, and many lack the financial means, documents, or necessary networks to move on their own to another country to take up a job. This means that most have no legal pathway that would allow them to follow opportunities to rebuild their lives. Why not recognise the talent that refugees possess?

 The promise of complementary pathways

Complementary pathways aim to close this gap. Promoted at global and EU fora, and already piloted by Canada and Australia, countries are invited to develop innovative international labour mobility schemes for people in need of international protection. These schemes are meant to add onto resettlement places (which are reserved for the most vulnerable), thereby increasing third-country opportunities for displaced persons – and increasing access to truly durable solutions. Why not let refugees move for work, like so many other people?

 The project

While looking globally to explore how complementary pathways are being discussed and what is currently being done on the ground to implement them, the project zooms in on five EU Member States: Austria, Czechia, Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden. The project team is conducting interviews and meetings, holding webinars, and writing policy briefs with the aim of:

  • Raising awareness. ICMPD is supporting the EU and its Member States in understanding the intricacies of complementary pathways, including challenges and opportunities.
  • Advancing the knowledge base. ICMPD is mapping current initiatives, gauging government and private sector interest, and identifying sources of inspiration and good practices.

 The ultimate aim is to help translate the considerable potential of complementary labour pathways into action.

 Stay tuned! Further information and publications will be posted here.