Belgium - A high-level conference bringing together participants from the 27 European Union (EU) Member States, the United States, Canada, Croatia, Norway and Turkey, alongside representatives from civil society and business, opens today in Brussels.
The one-day conference will focus on access to labour market information for migrants and employers, addressing a range of issues related to the provision, access to, and use of labour market information by both employers and migrants.
Participants will debate how best to address skills shortages and labour mismatches, which may threaten EU economic growth prospects and the job-rich recovery outlined in the European Commission Employment Package.
“International migration is part of the employment policy package because it can contribute to meeting emerging skills shortages through the recruitment of skilled economic migrants and through a better labour market integration of immigrants already resident in the EU,” said IOM Deputy Director General Laura Thompson, who will speak at the conference.
“But persistent labour market bottlenecks related to access to information need to be tackled because they make it difficult to match employers’ needs with migrants’ skills,” she added.
Even in EU Member States in which legal channels for labour migration rely on employers’ requests, information barriers exist that make it difficult to source the employees they need from abroad.
On the demand side, employers – and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular – often have difficulty accessing information on how to recruit abroad and on the availability of candidates with the right skills to meet their needs.
They may also encounter specific difficulties in trying to recruit migrants on a temporary basis, for example for seasonal employment, or in the case of an intra-company transfer.
On the supply side, prospective labour migrants often know little about legal migration channels or specific labour market requirements in destination countries.
Limited access to networks, diversity-related issues in workplace environments and discrimination may also result in information barriers that obstruct migrants with appropriate skills from coming to the EU to fill unfilled jobs.
The conference marks the end of a three-year collaboration between the IOM and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion of the European Commission. Key findings of the project will be presented, followed by a high-level stakeholder debate during the concluding session.
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