Category: the case for mobility

GAREX: A New Association for Responsible Recruitment in Guatemala

The one-pager below provides key information about the Guatemalan responsible recruitment association (GAREX), which LaMP helped to establish as an organization affiliated with the Guatemalan Chamber of Commerce in 2023 to develop mutual accountability among members, help affiliated recruiters differentiate within the market, and address systemic inefficiencies to make Guatemala a more competitive source country.


Building Migration Pathways at All Levels: Encouraging a Skills Mix


Natasha Iskander, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at New York University’s Wagner School of Public Service
Zuzana Cepla, Senior Associate, Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP)


Simon Bowyer, Chief Executive, Concordia, UK
Kangyeon Lee, Senior Social Protection Specialist, World Bank and Secondee, Ministry of Employment and Labor, South Korea


Helen Dempster, Assistant Director and Senior Associate for Policy Outreach for Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy, Center for Global Development


High-income countries around the world depend on immigration to help foster strong societies and economies. Yet when deciding who is allowed to enter, many high-income countries use a simple dichotomy based on educational attainment – “high” and “low” skilled.

This dichotomy ignores three key facts. Firstly, economies require a wide variety of skills and abilities to thrive; admitting people at either end ignores this complexity. Secondly, most foreign workers bring a “skills mix”. This could include educational attainment and knowledge of a foreign language, but also abilities learnt at previous and current jobs as well as interpersonal and other social skills. Thirdly, COVID-19 has exposed the essential roles occupied by foreign workers at all skill levels, and many locals recognize and support this dynamic.

Despite these facts, there is little willingness among high-income countries to admit more workers at a range of skill levels, or even do away with a stringent focus on educational-based skill levels overall. In this event, we will discuss how to build this willingness, and more mutually beneficial migration pathways at all skill levels.

Building Resilient Migration Systems

This piece was originally produced for the Perry World House Global Shifts Colloquium and made possible (in part) by a grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York to Perry World House at the University of Pennsylvania. The statements made and views expressed are solely the responsibility of the author(s).

2021 Global Shifts Colloquium Thought Pieces

Migrant workers contribute critically to the resilience of countries and sectors during times of crises. A key factor determining the resilience of systems is their flexibility, implying that in times of crisis, labor mobility becomes especially relevant. In all times, but particularly in times of uncertainty and crisis, flexibility and the ability of workers to safely move where they are needed is critical to the adjustment of the economy. Evidence from the European Union (EU) during the Great Recession suggests that migrant workers responded to changing labor shortages across EU states, occupations, and sectors more fluidly than native-born workers and this flexibility allowed them to contribute to stabilizing labor markets during and after the crisis.

Workers on the Move: Labor Mobility As a Powerful Tool for Alleviating Poverty


Jason DeParle, Pulitzer Prize Finalist and Author of “A Good Provider is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century”


William Gois, Regional Coordinator, Migrant Forum in Asia

Joe Martinez, Chief Executive Officer, CIERTO

Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair, Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)


Lant Pritchett, Research Director of LaMP and a Development Economist

Workers are at the heart of labor mobility. While a significant amount of research and advocacy on the topic (including our own) focuses on impacts in receiving and sending countries, at its core labor mobility is about workers filling needed jobs, and how this impacts themselves and their families. Overwhelming evidence shows labor mobility to be among the most powerful tools for lifting individuals and households out of poverty. More than half of variability in income globally is explained by country of birth, implying that “there are not poor people but only people in poor places;” labor mobility offers a way out. However, employment abroad also presents a number of risks for workers, resulting in indebtedness and abuse and undermining the powerful potential of labor mobility to improve the lives of workers and their families.

In this event, LaMP Research Director Lant Pritchett interviewed author Jason DeParle, whose book A Good Provider is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21st Century offers an intimate and nuanced look how labor mobility shaped the lives of one Filipino family. This conversation was followed by a panel discussion with migrant representatives and advocates, who discussed their experience of labor mobility and how they pursue more and better overseas employment opportunities for workers.

This event is the third in Labor Mobility Partnerships’ (LaMP’s) monthly event series on the case for labor mobility from the perspectives of key actors (receiving countries, sending countries, employers, workers, and ‘mobility industry’). Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on future events!

Workers on the Move: Labor Mobility as a Jobs Solution for Sending Countries


Rebekah Smith, Executive Director, Labor Mobility Partnerships


Dawit Dame, Innovation Manager, Ethiopian Jobs Creation Commission
Dr. K.P. Krishnan, IEPF Chair Professor in Regulatory Economics, National Council of Applied Economic Research in India
Dr. Sunday Onazi, Chief Labour Officer, International Labour Migration Division, Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment in Nigeria
Grégoire Douxchamps and Zainab Naji, Pilot Project Addressing Labour Shortages Through Innovative Labour Migration Models (PALIM) Project, Enabel Belgium


Devesh Kapur, Starr Foundation South Asia Studies Professor and Asia Programs Director, Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University

While high-income countries face rapidly shrinking working-age populations, these same populations in low-income countries are sharply increasing. Bridging these markets through labor mobility offers transformative benefits for low-income countries; beyond offering quality employment opportunities for their workers, associated remittances and skill accumulation can effect powerful positive change on their development outcomes.

However, there are a number of factors limiting sending countries’ ability to unlock the potential of labor mobility for their people. Ironically, labor mobility has often been viewed as a failure of development, leading to a negative narrative making it difficult to promote labor mobility. Beyond this, there are a number of challenges relating to labor mismatch, legal frameworks, and implementation that limit their ability to expand employment opportunities through mobility. Solving these challenges will require a multi-faceted effort with receiving country governments, employers, and a quality mobility industry.

In this event, we heard from representatives from sending countries across regions on the impacts of labor mobility in their countries, the challenges they have experienced, and how these challenges can be overcome to let workers fill needed jobs.

This event is the second in Labor Mobility Partnerships’ (LaMP’s) monthly event series on the case for labor mobility from the perspectives of key actors (receiving countries, sending countries, employers, workers, and ‘mobility industry’). Sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on future events!

Workers on the Move: How Can Labor Mobility Help Employers Address Job Gaps?


  • Zuzana Cepla, Senior Policy Analyst, Labor Mobility Partnerships


  • El Sayed Torkey, Senior Advisor, Federation of Egyptian Industries
  • Marco Taddei, Member of the Management Board, Head of romandie and Head of International Affairs, Swiss Employer’s Confederation
  • Ana Inés Montanari, Public Affairs Representative LATAM, The Adecco Group
  • Brent Wilton, Director Global Workplace Rights, The Coca-Cola Company


Employers in high-income countries face unprecedented labor shortages. As populations in these countries get older and fertility rates decline, the overall workforce in these countries shrinks, preventing employers across industries to find enough workers to fill  their vacancies and keep their companies running. While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused some temporary swings with closures of businesses and thousands of furloughed workers worldwide, this underlining long-term labor shortage trend is unlikely to change.

Meanwhile labor mobility pathways frequently do not reflect these needs, and are not flexible enough to adapt to their changing labor market demand. This has real impacts on productivity and innovation in these companies and in high-income countries more broadly.

In this event, our distinguished panel of speakers discussed the negative effect of labor shortages on communities and economies in high-income countries, and how to pursue labor mobility systems which unlock benefits for employers and workers alike.

This event was the first of the Labor Mobility Partnerships’ (LaMP’s) monthly event series on the case for labor mobility from the perspectives of key actors (receiving countries, sending countries, employers, workers, and ‘mobility industry’). Join us at 9am EST on the last Thursday of each month to follow along!

Workers on the Move: Addressing Global Workforce Challenges Through Labor Mobility Partnerships

Friday June 26 | 11.30 – 12.30 ET | Online


Original event link:



  • Gonzalo Fanjul, Co-founder and Head of Research, PorCausa
  • Ratna Omidvar, Independent Senator for Ontario, Senate of Canada
  • Julia Onslow-Cole, Global Government Strategies and Compliance Partner, Fragomen


  • Michael Clemens, Director of Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy and Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development


Between 2050 and 2080, OECD countries will need at least 400 million new workers to maintain current pension and health schemes, resulting from a shrinking working-age population and a growing elderly population. Meanwhile, working-age populations in developing countries are growing faster than job creation, meaning large numbers will need to find jobs elsewhere. This creates an opportunity; workers who find jobs in richer countries can expect to increase their income by 6 to 15 times, making mobility a powerful tool for alleviating poverty.

However, the question looms of how labor market needs of this scale can be met. The current migrant population in OECD countries is at 119 million–far short of the estimated 400+ million needed in the not-distant future. All stakeholders would benefit from a system through which actors cooperate to better facilitate labor mobility, but face risks and constraints from cooperation which prevent this.

In this event, our speakers discussed these constraints to coordinated action on labor mobility, and how external support could help address these constraints. In response to existing gaps in this support, they discussed the design of a new organization, Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP) which will work with governments, the private sector and employers, ‘mobility industry,’ financiers, and civil society to increase rights-respecting labor mobility, ensuring workers can access employment opportunities abroad.