Category: Uncategorized

The Crucial Role of Implementation Strategies on Final Outcomes of Labor Mobility Policies

Key Points

  • Sending and receiving countries lay out their interests when negotiating their domestic- as well as international-level policies. Despite best intents, many migration systems fail to achieve these goals in practice.
  • Migration policies and international agreements are crucial tools through which countries establish the terms of migration, but to be successfully implemented in practice, they must be underpinned by an effective and efficient implementing infrastructure.
  • Where policy change is not sufficient, we can improve outcomes in migration systems by strengthening the technical design of these structural elements.


For those seeking to improve migration systems, the focus often falls primarily on policymakers and the changes they can bring to migration policies and regulations. This is often a steep uphill battle since the policy environment is in many cases strongly resistant to change.

However, changing policies is not the only way to strengthen migration systems. In fact, focusing solely on policy change underestimates the importance of implementing infrastructure and employment services behind these policies in determining the impacts of migration systems. This suggests that where policy change is far off, we can improve outcomes in migration systems by strengthening the technical design of these structural elements.

In this policy note, we argue that how legal frameworks interact with the other core pillars of a migration system is key to the effectiveness of migration policies. In other words, while migration policies and international agreements are crucial tools through which countries establish the terms of migration, they must be underpinned by an effective and efficient implementing infrastructure and a quality mobility industry delivering employment and support services to ensure the policy is fully implemented in practice.


Migration systems consist of three key elements: (1) the legal framework establishing the rights and conditions under which a worker from one country may be employed in another; (2) infrastructure implementing this framework; and (3) services through which workers find and secure jobs and are supported throughout the migration cycle.[1] Underpinning these three elements are monitoring and risk mitigations to ensure transparency and adequate protections for workers, and sustainable financing mechanisms to align the incentives of all actors. In this policy note, we use this as a descriptive framework to identify the fundamental core of migration systems; that is, these are the elements necessary for basic functioning of existing systems allowing workers to move into jobs in a well-managed way. Other functions (skill certifications, remittance transfers, etc.) may be added to significantly improve the functions of a system; however, for purposes of this policy note we focus exclusively the core elements required to function.

Figure 1: The Elements of a Labor Mobility System

Source: Rebekah Smith & Farah Hani, Labor Mobility Partnerships: Expanding Opportunity with a Globally Mobile Workforce, Center for Global Development (June 26, 2020),

While sending and receiving countries are motivated by different interests when negotiating their policies – domestically and at international level – their objectives generally fall within three categories: (1) economic interests, in addressing labor market shortages in receiving countries and surplus labor in sending countries; (2) political interests, primarily in reinforcing cooperation to stem irregular migration; and (3) development objectives, seeking to maximize the development potential of labor flows from developing countries or to mitigate risks of migration.[2]

Despite best intents, many migration systems have not achieved these goals in practice. For example, administrative data from the Philippines (“one of the world’s most prolific promoters of labor migration and signers of bilateral labor agreements”) found no evidence that signing bilateral labor agreements (BLAs) resulted in increased out-migration of Filipinos through these corridors or remittance inflows to the Philippines.[3] Existing memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were not found to be successful in meeting objectives of improving recruitment systems (in the case of GCC countries and Malaysia) or reducing irregular migration (in the case of Thailand’s MoUs with Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar).[4] However, signing BLAs is associated with an increase in the stock of migrants in host countries, but it is not clear that the BLAs are responsible for this increase.[5]

For the purpose of this policy note, we define an effective system as one in which (1) workers regularly and predictably move through the channel and (2) workers’ rights are protected through clearly defined and fully implemented terms of migration. In order to regularly move workers through the channel, a system must be (1) flexible and demand-driven, focusing primarily on opening labor market access to address labor shortages and meet employers’ demand in select sectors;[6] 2) accessible to a broad range of employers and workers and cost-effective, reducing the total cost of migration to the extent reasonable. To ensure migrant rights are protected through clearly defined and fully implemented terms of migration, the system needs to be (3) transparent, so all involved actors understand their rights, responsibilities, and processes, and (4) integrated across borders through partnerships among parties on both sending and receiving side rather than a single overseeing authority.

The overall effectiveness of a labor mobility program is influenced by the structural elements both of legal frameworks and of the implementing infrastructure and employment services supporting it. Structural elements tied to these objectives include costs of migration and distribution of costs, processes for selecting workers and terms of employment, mechanisms for arbitration of disputes, and regulations for seeing to the protection of workers. This suggests that the effectiveness of mobility systems can be improved by strengthening the technical design of these structural elements.

In the following section, we explore how disconnects between the legal framework and the other core elements undermine their effectiveness.

Disconnects Between Elements of Labor Mobility Systems Undermining Effectiveness: Regular Movement through the Corridor
When the legal framework is not paired with robust implementing infrastructure and employment services, it is unlikely to facilitate regular movement through the corridor. The labor market access created by open migration channels may not be used in practice if there are not systems to connect employers with vacancies in the destination to jobseekers in the origin. The absence of active employment services may explain why visa access offered by a visa channel or a bilateral agreement alone has not been found to be effective in meeting the goals of facilitating migration flows.[7] For example, the governments of Afghanistan and Qatar signed an MoU in 2008 which was expected to allow 25,000 Afghan workers to move into jobs in Qatar; however, as of 2018 only a handful of workers ever found employment in Qatar via this agreement, due to the weak capacity of Afghan recruitment systems.[8] Similarly Japan has struggled to recruit workers at sufficient scale through the new Specified Skills Visa, though there is little information on specific barriers to its implementation.[9] [10] [11]

Additionally, when the legal framework is not paired with an effective and efficient implementing infrastructure, workers are less likely to move through it regularly. Ineffective infrastructure results in higher time and cost burdens for prospective migrants; if this time and cost burden significantly exceeds that associated with irregular migration, irregular migration can become the more attractive option. In implementing the MoU on regularizing migrants between Cambodia and Thailand. Workers present irregularly in Thailand were provided an identity card and a work permit for a total of 5500 baht, high relative to an average monthly wage of 1500 baht. The efficacy of the MOU has been very limited (with roughly 30% take up), as the cost of regular migration is much higher than the cost of irregular migration in this corridor.[12] Similarly, the insufficient implementing infrastructure in Ethiopia has resulted in a lengthy and redundant migration process – the process migration is long and complex with a number of redundancies and unnecessary steps.[13] each with delays of up to 2-3 months.

The lengthy process places a very real time and cost burden on the worker, incentivizing them to pay an agent to take on this burden or even to migrate irregularly to avoid the process altogether. In the Ethiopian context, members of the poorest families often opt for irregular migration as it is perceived as cheaper than going through regular channels.[14] Significant documentation requirements and the lengthy deployment process can also lead migrants to seek out recruitment agencies that can expedite deployment by falsifying documents; a 2007 study of labor migrants in three Indonesian provinces found that more than 40% of documents were falsified.[15] Redundancies in Myanmar’s labor sending system, with many manual stages processed and approved by multiple agencies, are shown to contribute to the prevalence of irregular migration while not meaningfully improving the quality of the migration experience for workers or employers.[16]

Case Study: Korea’s Employment Permit System
In 2004 South Korea introduced the Employment Permit System (EPS), in an effort to prevent irregular migration and answer labor scarcity in small and medium industries engaged in construction, manufacturing and services.[17] The EPS is managed entirely on a government-to-government (G2G) basis, underpinned by MoUs between Korea and the Ministry of Labor in each country of origin.[18] This means that the entire process, including worker recruitment and intermediation services, are handled directly by government agencies on both sides rather than any private sector actors, distinguishing the EPS from many other migration systems.[19] As of 2018, 16 origin countries[20] had partnered with Korea through the EPS, and more than 540,000 workers had moved into temporary jobs through the program since its inception.

The current G2G approach taken under the EPS is a response to problems under its predecessor, the Industrial Trainee System (ITS). The first challenge was high migration costs due to unregulated private recruitment activities, which in turn causes workers to overstay their visas to recoup the high migration costs. The second challenge was rights issues and exploitation as workers under the ITS did not have protection under Korea’s labor regulations.[21] It is worth noting that these are two of the three key problems identified in the previous section as resulting from a disconnect between the legal framework and implementing infrastructures. Under the G2G approach, the entire process is managed by the Korean government in co-ordination with the sending countries’ governments. These responsibilities include delivering a mandatory Korean language test during the pre-decision stage, workers’ identification and recruitment, provision of job-matching services and worker protection and counseling, and assistance with returns and settlement.[22]

The Indonesia-Korea MoU can provide an example of how this works in practice. The Director General of Placement and Development of Indonesian Overseas Workers (PDIOW) is identified in the MoU as responsible for recruiting, selecting and sending the workers, with the language test administered by the Korean Ministry of Labor. PDIOW is to prepare a roster of eligible jobseekers, who are then selected by employers in Korea. The Department of Manpower and Transmigration in India oversees delivery of predeparture orientation by a public agency. Public entities on both sides cooperate for the repatriation of migrants who are staying illegally in Korea, and if the percentage of Indonesian migrants staying irregularly in Korea will exceeds a certain percentage the visa allocation for Indonesia workers will subsequently be reduced. The MOU includes an annex which goes into more details on the hiring procedures.[23]

The EPS’s approach to BLA implementation has been a success by many metrics. By publicizing detailed costs of participating in the EPS and thus discouraging intermediaries from overcharging, the EPS was able to reduce costs paid by workers from USD 3,700 in its predecessor to less than USD 1,000, making it one of the lowest-cost destinations for workers in the world.[24] By reducing the upfront costs to the workers as well as strengthening bilateral cooperation between Korea and participating sending countries, the EPS has also managed to reduce the total number of migrant workers who overstayed their mandated time decreased from about 50% under the ITS period to less than 10% in 2014 under the EPS.[25] The EPS has also improved efficiency though robust interoperable ICT systems between ministries, and strengthened worker protections by including migrant workers in Korean labor laws and providing support services.

However, this approach to implementation also has its share of challenges and may not be appropriate for some contexts. This model depends heavily on the capacity of government institutions on both sides of the corridor. The EPS was built on the foundation of the Ministry of Employment and Labor’s infrastructure for intermediation and job matching as well as worker counseling, which allowed the Government of Korea to tap into economies of scale by expanding existing services to migrant workers, and further depends on the robust ICT infrastructure mentioned above. This model would struggle in the absence of an existing strong public employment service (PES), as is the case in many sending and receiving countries. Even with a strong PES, the success rates of the job matching process in the EPS are low. A large share of jobs posted through the EPS are not successfully matched with migrant workers and a significant share of those workers who are successfully matched with employers change jobs within a year.[26] The number of EPS workers entering Korea in the past few years was below the overall quota, only about 50% of the posted vacancies for EPS workers were successfully filled and over 60% of workers change jobs.

Disconnects Between Elements of Labor Mobility Systems Undermining Effectiveness: Integrated, Transparent Processes
Perhaps the most common impacts of a disconnect between the legal framework and implementing infrastructure are those relating to the terms of migration, particularly as relates to the cost of migration, rights, and employment conditions. Migration policies frequently include stipulations around each of these issues; however, without addressing the underlying dynamics causing them related to incentive structures in employment services and gaps in implementing systems, they are unlikely to deliver on the terms of the policies in practice. Here again, we focus on technical aspects of the design of mobility systems, though systemic power imbalances cannot be ignored are a core driver of these outcomes.

An example of this is extortionately high costs and fraud associated with recruitment and employment services. Labor mobility flows are frequently characterized by costs amounting to as much as nine months’ to more than a year’s salary abroad.A report by Verité, a US-based NGO, found that workers from Latin America and Asia paid intermediaries between USD 3,000 and 27,000 to secure visas to the US,[27] while the World Bank reports that South Asian workers regularly pay USD 3,000 to 4,000 for jobs in GCC countries.[28] These payments are made upfront, forcing workers to either sell off assets or take on debt with extremely high interest rates. Worse still, workers often arrive in the receiving country to find that the job is not as expected, or the pay not what they were promised. Verité reported that 43% of the Nepali workers they interviewed signed a different contract upon arrival in the receiving country with different terms to those they agreed to before migrating, and 36% never signed any contract. A 2019 GFEMS study, mentioned above, found that 61% of Bangladeshi male migrants surveyed never saw a contract, 44% reported deception by middlemen, and 24% reported deception by employers.[29] In the worst cases, migrant workers arrive to find there is no job.[30]

These bad outcomes of migration systems are driven by mis-aligned incentives and a lack of transparency and accountability throughout the process. First, the system of upfront payments creates no incentive for recruitment agencies to find quality employment for workers. Recruitment agencies receive payment either way, while sourcing and vetting quality vacancies requires greater effort (and expenditure) on their part. Second, there is a lack of transparency and accountability throughout the migration process. These are inherently cross-border operations, with different actors and different regulations on each side of the border, and no single entity responsible for ensuring the quality of the process from start to finish. BLAs are intended to address this by creating a consistent regulation across borders and aligning enforcement efforts; however, in practice this has been difficult to achieve without cross-border partnerships on implementation infrastructure and oversight.

Migration systems face similar challenges with enforcing stipulations around employment conditions. This has been particularly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, millions of workers were repatriated during the pandemic without being paid the wages they were due.[31] These workers have no avenue for redress as the issue falls within the jurisdiction of the host country, which they cannot access having been repatriated to their home country, leading to calls from civil society organizations for a cross-border mechanism to evaluate and assess claims of non-payment.[32]

The effectiveness of migration systems towards their goals of facilitating and increasing share of regular movement and enforcing quality standards through integrated, transparent processes hinges on how they interact with support implementing infrastructure and employment services. As the examples in this policy note showed, disconnects between the legal framework and the other core elements undermine the effectiveness of policies and international agreements and result in many of the problems we see in mobility systems today. In some cases, the absence of implementing infrastructure and employment services has prevented movement of workers though the corridor, and in others the existence of a low-quality mobility industry has undermined enforcement of the terms of migration particularly relating to employment fees, labor standards, etc.). This suggests that where policy change is far off, we can improve outcomes in migration systems by strengthening the technical design of these structural elements.

Guidance on Fair Recruitment Practices for Temporary Migrant Workers (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)

Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP) applauds the Biden administration’s guidance on fair recruitment practices for temporary workers coming to the United States. At LaMP, we believe that when the H-2 seasonal worker visa programs work well, they can help U.S. employers fill persistent labor shortages and provide migrant workers and their communities with life-changing job opportunities. We echo the administration’s emphasis on the importance of building a responsible recruitment environment for the successful expansion of access to the H-2 visa programs. This guidance is an important step in shaping an environment which encourages responsible practices in the marketplace, and thus promotes the protection of migrant’s rights and dignity.

The guidance outlines a clear process for fair recruitment infrastructure, protection of fundamental rights for workers, and ensuring transparency and access to redress for workers and job applicants. Importantly, it translates international principles into tangible indicators and recommendations relevant to governments, recruiters, retailers, and other supply chain actors. It highlights and promotes best practices such as:

  • Clear and transparent recruitment process, and compliance of this enforced by governments
  • The design of systems and measures that license or certify legitimate recruiters
  • Taking appropriate measures against abusive and fraudulent recruitment
  • Trained and resourced labor inspectorates to monitor all labor recruiters

To complement this important step in the right direction, LaMP recommends concrete actions to further operationalize these guidelines with recruiters and suppliers. For example, a simple mechanism that verifies responsible practices at the “first-mile” (early stages) of labor recruitment would bring transparency and oversight to one of the least regulated stages of the recruitment process. Preventing poor practices at the “first-mile” (such as soliciting money in return for employment contracts) can help ensure both workers and employers have a safe and successful H-2 experience. Put simply, a robust responsible recruitment ecosystem is necessary for a well-functioning H-2 program, and a well-functioning H-2 program keeps food on American tables, helps our farmers thrive, and provides job opportunities to migrant workers that can bring enormous benefit to their families and communities.

LaMP is pleased to support this guidance document and continues to collaborate with the administration and industry stakeholders on concrete solutions that help governments, employers, and recruiters further translate these concepts into practice.

Escriva’s Immigration Reform: The Bad, the Good and the Best (in Spanish)



  • Gonzalo Fanjul, Fundación por Causa
  • Santiago Sánchez, VOICE(ES)
  • Kimberly Geronimo, Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP)



The purpose of this event was to create a space for an informed conversation and debate on the risks and opportunities of the 2022 Spanish reform of labor mobility regulations. The conversation included an analysis of the positive aspects of the reform as well as areas for improvement. LaMP highlighted sensible changes to Spain’s circular labor mobility pathway (GECCO) which increase predictability for employers and workers, and recommended future improvements to the program such as occupation-based visas.

LaMP Flights: The Need for More Concrete Practical Solutions as a Result of the UN’s International Migration Review Forum


Predictability is an essential element for the private sector to engage in sustaining safe and legal pathways for migrant workers. This seemingly simple idea has, however, proven to be challenging to accomplish in practice.

It is crucial to bring “doers” and “practitioners” on board to help develop actual practical solutions to address this as well as other labor mobility issues.


Predictability is an essential element for the private sector to engage in sustaining safe and legal pathways for migrant workers. This seemingly simple idea has, however, proven to be challenging to accomplish in practice.

It is crucial to bring “doers” and “practitioners” on board to help develop actual practical solutions to address this as well as other labor mobility issues.

The first ever International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) took stock of the progress made in the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM). However, the conversations stayed primarily at the “high” level with the majority of participants generally agreeing on broad areas where further improvements are necessary, but just a few conversations around concrete practical steps allowing for actual progress towards the GCM goals .

In order to understand the ‘nuts and bolts’ of good labor mobility pathways and practices, we need more room for the “doers” in the labor mobility sector to share knowledge and understanding of “HOW” to achieve the GCM goals. LaMP strives to bring the practitioners’ perspective to the international conversations and to partner with actors responsible for implementing quality mobility programs on the ground.



It was a pleasure to participate in the first ever IMRF held at the United Nations headquarters in New York city. The LaMP team got a chance to finally reconnect in person with long-standing allies and meet new potential partners, ranging from state ambassadors and government representatives to private sector bodies and civil society organizations. While we are excited about all the possible opportunities stemming from these connections, the main official debates seemed to remain at quite ”high” level, simply reviewing and analyzing the broad areas where further improvements are needed. As such, they did not bring many concrete solutions, which could lead us closer to accomplishment of the GCM goals.

More specifically, we heard from the private sector about the need to create more predictable labor mobility pathways that would allow employers to make sound decisions, since the complexity and constant changes within the existing corridors often act as disincentives to hire from abroad. However, the IMRF led to just a very few practical steps towards conceiving such pathways. Similarly, while the participants quite unanimously agreed on the need for more responsible recruitment practices, the debate basically stayed within the realm of regulations.

At LaMP, we use a distinctive “practice first” approach: rather than focus on designing perfect policies and assuming they will translate into practice, LaMP emphasizes solving problems on the ground to demonstrate good labor mobility practices that pave the way for better policy. In designing new models to work in practice from the outset, we take a multi-stakeholder approach, developing pragmatic solutions that address the interests of all actors. An example of this is our work on responsible recruitment in the US H-2A program, where we aim to help responsible recruiters build a competitive advantage over bad actors in the industry by strengthening their service offerings to employers and addressing capacity constraints.

For our field to move forward, we need practical solutions and concrete partnerships aimed addressing “nuts and bolts” problems in the implementation of quality mobility programs. LaMP is digging in here, and we hope you will join us!

LaMP Flights: Opening More Opportunities for Workers from Guatemala


Guatemala has a lot of potential to utilize the U.S. H2A agricultural seasonal worker program successfully (in terms of scale and quality). There is unprecedented political will and industry interest to ensure it grows exponentially and that workers are recruited responsibly. Guatemala has an abundance of hard-working people waiting for an opportunity to migrate for work. It is also home to several established conscientious recruiters serving seasonal worker schemes in Canada that could support the expansion of the H2A program in Guatemala.


The LaMP team met with various stakeholders, including government, local CSOs, migrant workers, recruiters, international NGOs, and grass-roots organizations, in order to better understand the impact potential of the growing the interest in the H2A program in Guatemala, as well as the recruitment process, constraints and opportunities of U.S. seasonal worker schemes.

During these meetings LaMP discussed concrete concerns and strategies to increase employer demand, improve institutional collaboration, and reduce the risk of exploitation for workers who wish to participate in the programs.



The LaMP team is now preparing a diagnostic of responsible recruitment market potential in Guatemala and  follow-up consultations with recruiters, who expressed interest in continued collaboration. To stay tuned for more details, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter here and follow us on twitter! 

We need better solutions to the capital constraints faced by responsible recruitment agencies

Responsible recruitment has a cash flow problem. In this blog, we present the problem and some ideas about solutions that tie access to finance to responsible practices. Rewarding ethical recruitment by solving cash flow constraints may tip the scales in favor of responsible firms, who have historically struggled to scale. 

Imagine you own a small staffing agency that recruits workers from your home state in Mexico and places them in seasonal harvesting jobs in the U.S. each year. You want to serve the workers you recruit well, without charging them unnecessary or illegal fees, and help them get good jobs abroad with good pay (sometimes as much as 20x more than local salaries). The workers you serve are low-income, so fees of a few hundred dollars may force them into debt just to access a job.

Your clients, U.S. farms who employ these workers, don’t pay you for your services until several weeks after the workers arrive on site. But to get the workers to the jobsite, you have all sorts of upfront costs, including staff time, visa fees, and travel and lodging for the workers as they make the trip from their homes. Because your business is small with limited physical assets, you can’t get a loan from a bank to cover those upfront costs. You essentially have two options to get the cash you need to deliver on a staffing contract: (1) ask your clients – the farms – to pay upfront, or (2) charge the workers fees.

Suppose you want to do the right thing and not charge the workers. This may not just be ethical but also makes good business sense because it increases worker loyalty to you and the farm and may be a selling point for farms concerned about their own social impact. You could ask your clients if they will cover at least 75% of your total costs upfront. But most other staffing agencies charge workers fees and therefore appear to offer your clients a better (financial) deal, undercutting you and taking market share. Now what do you do? How can you grow your business? How can you be price competitive as a morally responsible recruiter with limited or no cash-in-hand and reserves?

Limited working capital is a challenge faced by responsible labor recruiters operating in cross-border markets across the world. Responsible recruiters are “double bottom-line” agencies committed to respecting workers’ rights while serving employer clients. They commit to a series of ethical practices and have mechanisms in place to avoid fraud and extortion of workers seeking employment abroad. And as a rule, responsible recruitment agencies do not charge workers illegal or unfair fees.

Because responsible agencies don’t charge workers fees, they are at a competitive disadvantage. Unscrupulous recruiters that charge workers unfair or illegal fees can use this revenue as working capital. In effect, worker fees “solve” the liquidity problem for recruiters, absorbing the risk and debt burden from the firms.This in turn allows these agencies to offer more favorable terms to their clients (the employers), undercutting responsible agencies in the market.

These disadvantages limit the growth of responsible recruitment and have real human costs. Illegal and unfair fees can force workers into severe debt and forced labor situations. Sadly, worker fees, fraud, and exploitation are widespread, and horrific cases all too often make headlines. The problem is only growing more urgent as demand for temporary foreign labor explodes (see Figure 1 for an example from U.S. agriculture) – fueling the expansion of recruitment markets and the number of people at risk of exploitative practices.

Figure 1: The US H-2A program for agriculture, like many other temporary visa programs, is growing rapidly, along with its corresponding recruitment industry

Source: Rural migration news, UC Davis 

If we want responsible recruitment to scale, we need to solve the challenges facing responsible firms. This includes shifting the financing ecosystem within which responsible agents operate so that they can get the working capital they need to serve workers and employers at scale. Solving this challenge will require new ways of financing and incentivizing international recruitment that encourage capital to flow to responsible agents.

Here are three preliminary approaches that might help move the needle:

1. Blended outcomes-based debt financing could provide responsible recruiters with low-cost loans to cover their working capital needs. Eligibility could be tied to certain quality standards that recruiters must meet. These standards would initially include the demonstration of systems and processes that ensure responsible practices. For repeat borrowers, future loan eligibility could incorporate independent measures of positive worker outcomes from past contracts. This option would most likely attract smaller recruiters or new entrants who have no access to traditional sources of financing and who would benefit from increased market exposure tied to their participation. This approach would require significant philanthropic or patient capital to de-risk or subsidize the loans made to responsible agencies.

2. Supply chain finance models involve commitment of up-front capital by larger, downstream actors (think large retail brands) conditional upon adherence with quality standards and continuity of vendor supply. Assuming the quality standards address unethical labor recruitment, this approach could solve cash-flow problems for recruiters while also reducing the risk of supply chain disruption for the downstream corporations. This model would also transform recruiters into ‘partners’ rather than ‘agents’ of their clients, allowing both parties to plan around and invest in a longer-term relationship defined not only by quantity but also quality. In theory, cheap loans sponsored by supply chain leaders would be attractive to any labor provider or employer.  Yet slim profit margins and fierce competition in the industry may limit the pool of brands and retailers who would be willing or able to finance this sort of investment. As a result, this approach may work best in premium markets with clear product differentiation where retailers are more willing to invest in ensuring the supply of specific products (for example, certified organic foods), and in markets where sole-sourcing agreements are common.

3. Increased venture investment would target specific recruiters and invest in those which look especially promising in terms of growth and good practice. Whereas the first two ideas are lighter-touch and open to any recruiter that meets eligibility requirements (either for outcomes-based loans, or for supply chain finance), this third option is a more intensive engagement and ‘eligibility’ would be assessed on a case-by-case basis. This idea would be most likely to work for recruiters who already demonstrate a clear track-record of responsible practices and good potential for growth.

Of course, working capital constraints are just one challenge responsible recruiters face in the market. They may also absorb other risks that ‘standard’ recruiters shift onto the shoulders of workers or employers, such as the risk of failed visa applications, poor job matching, and abscondment. Given the complexity of these challenges, no single solution is a silver bullet. Nevertheless, access to working capital can give responsible recruiters some breathing room, and provide them with the liquidity they need to undertake proper vetting, training, and protection of workers. Quality, alongside quantity, will help ensure that employers, workers, and responsible recruiters alike reap the benefits of efficient and fair mobility pathways.

Getting responsible recruitment right at scale is critical.

Aging populations mean that employers must increasingly look abroad to find the labor they need. At LaMP, we think these trends can be harnessed as a force for good. Workers who move from poorer countries to richer countries can dramatically increase their earnings. For instance, young people who move from Kenya to study and work in Germany may increase their annual income by a staggering 1,563%. This can be life changing. If workers return home, they invest this money in their families and communities. If they can stay, and choose to do so, they still likely send money home as remittances (an important contributor to GDP in poorer countries). And there is evidence that outmigration for work opportunities contributes to a “brain gain” effect in the sending country rather than the feared “brain drain.” In short, the upside of doing international recruitment well is enormous, and the number of lives touched by labor recruitment is only set to increase.

But all these potential benefits are only realized if recruitment systems work for both employers and workers. We’re looking for partners to help us redesign the playing field, so that responsible recruiters have the edge they deserve. If you have thoughts, reactions, or ideas on any of this, please reach out – we’d love to collaborate with you.

The research included in this blog was made possible in part through funding by the Walmart Foundation. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations presented in this blog are those of Labor Mobility Partnerships along, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Walmart Foundation. 


LaMP Flights: Workers’ Voices in Mexico


LaMP has been working with responsible recruiter, CIERTO, to ensure workers’ perspectives are incorporated in the work that we do, including how we define “responsible” recruitment. The team was able to listen to workers’ concerns, expectations and ideas on the H-2A program, how to improve it and increase access for others. This was also an opportunity to learn from CIERTO’s practices and community engagement.


Kim and Mel from the LaMP’s North America team traveled to Huahuaxtla, Puebla, and met with 30 workers who had and had not worked in the United States under the H-2A agricultural seasonal worker program previously. Transparent and comprehensive information was the number one priority for workers in the recruitment process, and in-person community engagement was considered the best way to establish trust between recruiters and workers. This trip also helped shape methodologies, questions and practices for gathering worker perspectives, so the exercise can continue to be replicated in other LaMP projects.



The LaMP team is synthesizing the learnings from this trip and working on a blog which will be posted later! To stay tuned for more details, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter here and follow us on twitter! 

2021 at LaMP: What We Learned in a Year of Growth

The year 2021 was a watershed year in the world of labor mobility: one where previously unthinkable policies were suddenly on the table, where the impact of labor shortages abruptly and dramatically entered the public consciousness as well as Board rooms, and where for perhaps the first time in history, high-income countries began to ‘compete’ for migrant workers. Everywhere we saw the signs of a new coming era; one defined where mobility is a necessity and the question is not if but how.

It was a watershed year for LaMP as well – in 2021, we doubled the size of our team, raised $3.5M in new multi-year grant commitments, defined our core values, and launched several big programs of work. We learned a lot through this growth, and want to take some time as we close out the year to share what we learned with you.

In 2021, we came a long way in articulating LaMP’s unique role and strategy and got to work:

  • We fill a unique gap in our field. LaMP is the only organization dedicated solely to expanding rights-respecting labor mobility for migrants workers as a global public good. Towards this end, our goal is not to be a service delivery or research organization ourselves, but to expand our field through demonstrating solutions and influencing decision makers.  This approach lets us be much more ambitious about our potential impact than if we tried to act alone, and we have received significant interest in and support for our unique approach to designing scalable, market-viable, and rights-respecting solutions.
  • We build practice over policy. Much of the work in the labor mobility field takes a policy-first approach, crafting top-down regulatory approaches that often fail to play out in practice. At LaMP, our philosophy is “good practice leads to good policy” – we work within existing policies and regulations to improve the design and functioning of labor mobility and recruitment systems, feeding the findings of this work back into better policies. In 2021, we began testing this philosophy through our portfolio of work seeking to improve outcomes in the US H-2A program by developing market-viable strategies to improve recruitment practices.
  • We got messy and embraced complexity. Because poverty alleviation is at the heart of our mission, we exclusively focus on workers disadvantaged by existing migration systems. In the past, our field would have referred to this as a focus on ‘low-skilled workers,’ but as we explored it’s much more complex than that, with this group both offering essential skills and being disadvantaged through intersecting lenses of classism, racism, and nationalism. As a start, we’ve switched to the term ‘migrant workers’ (feedback welcome!), and now are on to the harder work of considering how these intersecting lenses affect our approach. Stay tuned in 2022 for more on that.

Through our rapid growth in 2021, we identified new challenges:

  • Thinking globally while acting locally. It’s a bumper sticker slogan, but was an important learning for us this year. While LaMP’s mandate is global, we found that the only way to be effective and get the trust of needed stakeholders is to be deeply embedded in the region/sector (in the ag industry for example), understanding the needs and challenges down to the names of specific immigration forms, common frustrations faced by employers, which crops require the most training, etc. This has two important implications for our work moving forward: (1) while maintaining a global mandate, we’ll be choosing priority regions and sectors and zooming in on those, and (2) we will be looking to build a roster of industry/region insiders to embed in our work.
  • Can we be all things to all people? LaMP’s work necessitates that we work with stakeholders with very different goals, who do not see themselves as part of the same field. To work on scaling mobility programs, we need to work with employers to design systems that are responsive to their needs — and to work on improving the quality and outcomes for migrants in mobility systems, we need to work with established advocacy organizations dedicated to protecting workers’ rights. LaMP sees these as going hand-in-glove, and all of our work deliberately targets solutions that can simultaneously scale and improve outcomes. However, this is a unique view in this space, and we are still working on bridging our partners’ very disparate views both in our work and our approach to strategic communications. In the end, we hope to build a coalition of ‘strange bedfellows.’
  • How do we get people to recognize missed opportunities as active harms? Successful movements are most often built around tangible and active harms; it is much more difficult to get people to care about missed opportunities for good. This creates a challenge for LaMP, as our constituency is future migrants more so than present ones – we work on behalf of the billion people who would like to migrate but are not able to do so.  While many of these people will live and die in poverty, constituting very active harm, these harms are often ignored as people choose not to connect them to the absence of opportunities to migrate.
  • How can we open new doors? LaMP works both to open new migration opportunities (‘scale’) and to improve existing migration opportunities (‘quality’). Unsurprisingly, we have found much more appetite for work on quality over scale, which requires influencing government action. In 2021, we have pursued two strategies to scale – (1) through policy changes and (2) by improving the implementation of existing policies. It’s too early to tell which strategy might work and where, but we will continue trialing them in 2022.

In 2022, we are prioritizing three things (and you can help!): 

  • We are piloting a sector-based approach. Because the needs and dynamics within individual sectors are so unique, we have found it more successful to identify opportunities for demonstrating scale by starting with a sector rather than starting with a country. This also allows us to partner with sector-based bodies as champions for expanding mobility opportunities. However, while this has become common wisdom in the labor mobility field, few actors have managed to successfully implement this approach. While we will be trialing our lessons on targeting and embedding deeply, we’re looking for your suggestions – which sector actors should we be talking to? Who should we bring on as expert consultants? What have you learned about successful approaches?
  • We will more actively feed what we learn back into the policy realm. This year we have been largely looking inward, exploring questions around our theory of change and feeding it back into our work. That was needed work and we have made important strides, but in 2022, we promise to more actively share what we are learning with all of you! You tell us – what of our work would you like to learn more about? What questions relating to labor mobility should we explore that would be most helpful in your work?
  • We are committed to centering the worker experience. Both we and most organizations in our space are guilty of speculating about what matters most to workers and how they evaluate migration opportunities – what do they think is a good job? How long do they want to migrate for? What is most important to their well-being during migration? In 2022 and beyond, we are committing to directly consulting with worker representatives on these and other critical questions, to ensure that their well-being and economic advancement is the center of our work.

As we close out 2021, I invite you to share what you have learned with us. At LaMP, we are dedicating 2022 (and every year after) to building a world in which more people have the opportunity to safely migrate, and look forward to working with you to make that vision reality!

LaMP’s Program on Strengthening H-2A Recruitment Now Supported by the Walmart Foundation 

November 4th, 2021, Washington, D.C. – Labor Mobility Partnerships’ (LaMP) initiative to strengthen and unlock the value of quality recruitment within the H-2A seasonal agricultural workers program has received support from the Walmart Foundation.  

LaMP will work with leading H-2A recruiters and key stakeholders in the ag labor supply chain to support the growth and development of professional, quality recruitment operations in North American agriculture. The initiative represents an opportunity for industry partners to engage in making professional recruitment the standard business practice. LaMP’s approach focuses on market-compatible strategies and solutions to recruitment challenges with the ultimate goal of making H-2A work better for everyone. 

Canada needs to improve its immigration channels for essential migrant workers

Originally published on Policy Options August 19, 2021 here.

Special note: This post was originally written for a Canadian audience, therefore the language within this article reflects the labor mobility challenges faced by their country.

Labour shortages and aging demographics mean we’re relying on migrants to fill critical jobs. We need a streamlined program to meet these demands.

There’s No Such Thing as a “Low”-Skill Worker

This post was published also at the Center for Global Development (CGD) website here.

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

In this blog, based on a new policy brief by Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP) and discussions at a recent LaMP-CGD co-hosted event, we outline why this dichotomy is wrong, and how high-income countries can build mutually beneficial migration pathways at all skill levels.

Skills Mix: Foreign-Born Workers Bring More Than University Degrees to High-Income Countries

Key Points

  • Because there is no explicit general definition of a high-skilled versus low-skilled worker, such categorizations are often arbitrary and sometimes even contradictory.
  • To increase the overall complexity of their economies, and thus boost growth, high-income countries need a much broader variety of abilities than the traditional low- and high-skill dichotomy, which is solely based on a worker’s level of schooling.
  • Rather than using the arbitrary education-focused definitions of skill levels, labor mobility schemes should focus on the capabilities needed by employers hiring sectors, including a worker’s ability to learn and develop new skills during their employment in the host country.
  • Implementing better quality labor pathways for foreign-born workers with a broad variety of skills would add to the overall economic growth of the receiving countries while also assisting native-born workers with their own realization and potential career advancement.
Download the PDF


An economy is a complex system, under which each worker’s skills and specialization has its own value that complements the capabilities of others—a process that ultimately leads to increased overall economic growth. As Hausmann found, complexity is in fact at the center of countries’ economic growth and development.[i] The argument may be easier to understand using the following metaphor. A simple economy makes bread, which only requires a few ingredients, including a great deal of flour, but no eggs. A more sophisticated economy produces both bread and cake, the latter of which requires flour and eggs. And an even more sophisticated economy might produce a variety of breads, pastries, and cakes, which requires the specialized skills of a chef, who can create new recipes using existing and new ingredients. Note that each of the economies still need flour to produce their goods. In terms of migration, high-income countries strive to attract more entrepreneurs, information technology (IT), and other experts with advanced degrees to continue expanding the range and depth of sophistication of their economies. However, the “recipes” for modern economies still require “flour”—in other words, there is still a need for caregivers for the young and the old—as well as cleaners, roofers, painters, and retail workers; and many employers in high-income countries struggle to fill these and other jobs due to increasing labor scarcities.

All workers—whether native- or foreign-born—offer a wide range of skills and abilities, from social and cultural skills to those learned from previous experiences or even at school, which advances and increases the complexity of an economy. And yet, when it comes to foreign-born workers, many existing labor mobility systems in high-income countries traditionally use a dichotomy based on educational attainment, simply splitting the workers into two groups: highskilled or low-skilled. So-called high-skilled workers typically have at least a four-year degree and work as IT experts, medical doctors, scientists, or other professionals that require a postsecondary degree; while so-called low-skilled workers have less schooling than a bachelor’s degree and work, for example, as agricultural and construction laborers, welders, and caregivers.

In fact, the capabilities of foreign-born workers represent a kind of “skills mix,” consisting of educational attainment and knowledge of another language, skills acquired through previous or current employment, and interpersonal and other social skills. In other words, a foreign-born worker brings an entire package of abilities, which could possibly help both companies in employing sectors of high-income countries as well as workers and their families in their countries of origin if a worker decides to return. However, for a country to bring in a variety of workers with a broad range of skills, it needs flexible mobility pathways that allow for the safe entry of workers with skill sets that correspond to the needs of the host country’s economic sectors. Moreover, data show that, when combined with other enforcement measures, implementation of additional quality labor mobility programs for workers with diverse skill sets could help reduce irregular migration channels.[ii]

Nevertheless, high-income countries are not particularly willing to admit additional foreign-born workers who possess a broader array of skills. High-income countries have frequently demonstrated the political appetite for developing pathways to admitting highly skilled foreign-born workers to work in sectors, such as IT, medicine, and science. Since professions in these fields have clear and established training and certifications systems, it is easier for high-income countries to label them high-skilled. However, other occupations that require extensive training are not likewise recognized. Employers and workers in construction, care work, tourism, and similar fields are therefore often at a disadvantage due to the failure of countries to develop adequate mobility pathways that recognize the skills and training that is required for these sectors. Although the inclination toward highly skilled workers stems from a variety of factors, data show that many foreign-born workers traditionally labeled as low-skilled due to their lower level of schooling in fact play important roles in the lives of native-born workers and help increase overall productivity. Receiving countries may find that it is more beneficial to base labor mobility schemes on sector needs rather than on the educational level of workers.

Implementing additional quality mobility pathways for foreign-born workers with a broader variety of skills would increase economic complexity for both the receiving high-income countries and the sending countries because workers returning home can continue to use and teach others their skills. Research shows that such new abilities may make workers more attractive to potential employers or, in combination with accumulated savings, potentially allow them to open businesses of their own and train people in their native countries.[iii] Moreover, upon their return, workers can capitalize on their acquired skills to secure jobs that require higher skill levels and that provide better salaries than those they could have obtained prior to their migration.[iv] For example, a study on returnees to Brazil, Chile, and Costa Rica reveal that such workers are overrepresented in highly skilled occupations and underrepresented in least-skill trades.[v] A separate analysis by Natasha Iskander, focused on Mexican construction workers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, revealed that “as immigrants move their knowledge from one labor market context to another, they change its form and composition.” The change is so radical that “it is more accurate to say that it is transformed, rather than merely transferred.”[vi] Increasing and improving mobility systems for workers with all kinds of skills and abilities, not only for those with a high level of education, could be a powerful tool in the development strategies of high-income countries because the resulting increase of economic complexity also impacts countries of origin.

The Traditional Dichotomy of Foreign-Born Workers’ Skills

Workers are typically considered skilled if they have reached a specific level of education, if they have obtained specific certifications, or if their expected pay levels or wages are above a certain threshold. However, the exact definition of skilled varies by country as each sets its own eligibility criteria and types of visas.[vii] Moreover, when discussing labor mobility, politicians, economists, and other experts tend to use rhetoric that splits workers into two groups—high-skilled and low-skilled.[1] High-skilled workers typically have at least a bachelor’s degree and engage in positions such as IT experts, medical doctors, and scientists. Low-skilled workers usually have less schooling than a four-year degree and tend to be engaged as agricultural or construction laborers, welders, caregivers, and cooks. This dichotomy has been used as an actual basis for the migration systems of high-income countries. The United States, for example, defines highly skilled foreign-born workers as those who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree;[viii] all other workers are considered low-skilled. In Europe, countries tend to establish their migration systems along the two skill levels as well. Spain, for example, defines high-skilled workers as those with at least a graduate degree.[ix] Japan issues its highly skilled professional visas to applicants seeking jobs in academia, engineering, and business management, which typically require doctoral or master’s degrees.[x]

Even when countries use other characteristics to divide foreign-born workers into groups, they still tend to end up with similar groups of “high” and “low.” Canada, for example, changed its system in 2014 to define its two categories of workers based on their wages rather than on their skills. The country’s temporary foreign-born worker program has been divided into two categories: high-wage workers, including positions offering wages at or above the established provincial or territorial median wage, and low-wage workers, with pay below the median wage level. In fact, however, the occupations in these two categories basically cover the same positions as the previous system of high- and low-skill, which divided foreign-born workers based on if they had obtained a postsecondary education or formal certification.[xi] Although this may be a less value-laden way to classify foreign-born workers, it still serves to give preference to one group over another.

This dichotomy toward foreign-born worker categories is problematic for multiple reasons. First, the overly rigid and simplified skills definitions often limit mobility pathways for workers who might have some postsecondary education or training but who lack a four-year degree—middle-skilled workers. In the United States, reports show that about 52 percent of jobs require mid-level skills,[xii] and 69 percent of human resources executives claim that their firm’s performance is often impacted by their inability to attract such talent.[xiii] Additionally, estimates indicate that middle-skill occupations will represent the largest share of overall job openings in the United States through 2024.[xiv] The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which defines middle-skill jobs as occupations with average wages “in the middle of the occupation-wage distribution”—a definition that does not even reflect the actual skills of the workers—says that these occupations represent slightly over 30 percent of the total employment in member countries.[xv]

Although some countries recently introduced programs for certain middle-skill occupations, such as caregivers, only a few countries’ migration schemes recognize middle-skilled foreign-born workers as a standalone stream.[2] Therefore, middle-skilled workers are often categorized as low-skilled and thus restricted to the same few pathways merely because they do not meet the high-skill threshold, regardless of their having training and certifications in their fields. This is the case in Spain, for example, giving employers very limited options for closing their job gaps by hiring from abroad.[xvi] As a result of such an approach, many foreign-born workers from the construction and health care sectors are considered low-skilled[xvii] even though they possess certifications in their field. They are then offered fewer and more restrictive mobility pathways than workers recognized as high-skilled.

Employing Sectors Need More Skills than Schooling

Another important issue with the skills dichotomy in countries’ labor mobility schemes is that it overlooks other difficult-to-measure skills that workers also bring to the receiving country, such as technical, social, and cultural abilities, and interpersonal competencies. Businesses are increasingly interested in workers with critical thinking, interpersonal, learning, and other soft skills. In a recent survey, the majority (65 percent) of U.S. employers claimed that soft skills are in the highest demand.[xviii] In other words, educational attainment alone cannot fully describe the actual skills of a foreign-born worker. There are other abilities and expertise that workers gain through specialized training or informally by performing their jobs.

The narrowly defined skill levels used in high-income countries’ labor mobility schemes often diminish the value of workers—native- and foreign-bornin occupations typically labeled as low-wage or low-skill. And yet studies show that foreign-born workers, who are considered low-skilled due to their lack of schooling, are “in fact quite skilled.”[xix] A recent study on work and mobility among Mexican migrants working in low-skill occupations in the United States show that a lack of schooling and credentialing does not correlate with a foreign-born worker’s “lack of ability, desire to learn, or ambition to advance in life.” It also found that foreign-born workers with low levels of schooling still bring skills from their home country that they use in the United States. For example, in the construction sector, nearly two-thirds of the interviewed foreign-born workers confirm that they had previous experience in their home countries, and about half say they use these skills at their jobs in the United States. Moreover, agricultural workers, who are often characterized as “easily replaceable, transient, and unskilled labor,” showed “substantial skill transfers, skill development, and social mobility.”[xx] Similar trends were reported in other sectors as well, including retail, hospitality, and personal services.[xxi] Further, the study finds that over three-quarters of the respondents had learned new skills abroad, sometimes through their occupations, including agricultural work, which typically offers only a few mobility pathways.[xxii]

The dichotomy based on workers’ schooling does not reflect the actual skills and value that workers bring to the receiving high-income countries and their societies. It is impossible to fully assess the ability of workers solely based on their schooling. In other words, workers’ abilities represent a “skill mix,” consisting of a wide range of skills and abilities gained through a variety of sources, rather than just through educational institutions. Clearly, the skills dichotomy, often used to create mobility schemes in high-income countries, completely ignores the experiences of workers from previous employment as well as their soft skills and ability to learn, which are often more important to employing sectors seeking to fill these so-called low-skill positions.

The seemingly simple skills dichotomy used for many high-income countries’ mobility schemes prevents employing sectors from bringing in the variety of workers they need, and thus hampers the process of increasing complexity in the involved economies, ultimately limiting their growth and development. For example, the construction industry needs all type of workers, including engineers, construction managers, electricians, carpenters, and laborers.[xxiii] Manufacturing companies hire researchers and scientists as well as machinists, welders, and cutters.[xxiv] However, the structure of mobility systems often makes it more difficult for employers to hire workers from diverse backgrounds because the employer must navigate multiple programs—some for highly skilled workers and others for less skilled workers. Rather than basing mobility systems on a worker’s education level, the receiving countries should consider sector-based schemes focused on the needs of the employing sectors and the overall economy.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, while the label low skilled might imply little value, in fact, such workers provide essential services to the public.[xxv] The health care industry, for example, often devalues women’s work, reflected in a 28 percent gender pay gap, with other industries and professions, such as janitors and maids and house cleaners, facing similar challenges.[xxvi] Combined with restrictions on the admission of foreign-born workers imposed by host countries, migration schemes often disproportionately block women’s migration, especially in occupations such as nurses, caregivers, and sometimes even domestic workers, which are not recognized as “skilled” even though they require a certain level of training.[xxvii] However, it is not only women who face devaluation of their work, as the same trends can be seen in other industries that primarily employ male workers, who are also frequently undervalued and face many migration restrictions.

High-Income Countries Face Labor Scarcity

Economists have long argued that the division of labor is the ultimate formula for a country’s wealth. As the “recipe” analogy at the beginning of this note describes, due to the specialization of companies and their workers in a variety of activities, as well as the interactions among them, a country’s economy becomes more complex, ultimately increasing economic efficiency. The complexity of a country’s economy therefore plays a central role in its economic growth and development.

However, due to inevitable demographic changes caused by low fertility rates and aging populations, the workforces of high-income countries are shrinking.[3] This keeps employers from being able to hire enough workers with the required skills. These trends have resulted in an unprecedented scarcity of workers[4]—a problem that employers across industries cannot address by simply increasing wages (table 1).

Table 1. Total Job Scarcity in Select High-Income Countries, Pre-Pandemic

CountryTotal Job ScarcityYear Reported
United States7 million2019
Germany1.6 million2018

Glassman, Jim. “Help Wanted: Why the US Has Millions of Unfilled Jobs.” JP Morgan, January 29, 2020; Nienaber, Michael. “Labor Shortages May Undermine German Economic Boom: DIHK Survey.” Thomson Reuters, March 13 2018; “France’s New Labour Problem-Skills Shortages.” The Economist, March 8, 2018.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic swings as many businesses were forced to close their doors, and millions of employees around the world were furloughed, but long-term demographic trends are unlikely to change. Instead, data suggest that the situation will likely worsen (table 2).[xxviii] Labor mobility can serve as an effective policy tool for increasing the complexity and thereby the overall growth of the economies of both sending and receiving countries. Foreign-born workers, who return home after a time in the receiving country, bring back with them new and more developed skill sets, which allows them to enhance the economies of their countries of origin.[5] At the same time, labor mobility can, at least partly, alleviate the labor scarcity experienced by the employing sectors of receiving countries.

Table 2. Projected Total Job Scarcity in Select High-Income Countries

CountryTotal Projected Job ScarcityTime RangeAnnual Average Growth of Job Scarcity
Japan6.44 million2018–2030535,000
Canada2 million2014–2031120,000
Poland1.5 million2019–2025250,000

Sources: “Worker Shortage in Japan to Hit 6.4m by 2030, Survey Finds.” Nikkei Asian Review, October 25, 2018; Miner, Rick. Rep. The Great Canadian Skills Mismatch: People Without Jobs, Jobs Without People and More, March 2014; Wilczek, Maria. “Poland Struggles to Find Workers as Unemployment Hits 28-Year Low.” Al Jazeera, August 29, 2019; “More Jobs—but Are There Enough Workers?” UBS, July 11, 2019; “These Are the Thousands of Job Vacancies That Italy Can’t Fill.” The Local, February 18, 2019.

Therefore, some high-income countries have begun to explore ways to bring workers from abroad. For example, Germany began to enforce its new immigration rules in early 2020 to provide more opportunities for workers from outside the European Union (EU).[xxix] The United Kingdom also introduced a new immigration system in 2020, following the country’s exit from the EU.[xxx] Canada made considerable changes to its system in 2014[xxxi] and launched a number of new pilots in 2019.[xxxii] Nevertheless, rather than focusing on employing sectors’ needs, the new mobility pathways are often targeted primarily at workers they consider skilled.

However, many sectors that struggle the most with worker scarcity need workers typically considered low- or middle-skilled. In the United States, occupations that do not require any degree, including home health and personal care aids, as well as fast-food counter workers and restaurant cooks, were among the jobs with the largest absolute growth in worker demand projected for 2019–2029.[xxxiii] In 2020, European countries reported shortages in occupations such as nursing, plumbers, cooks, heavy truck drivers, and welders.[xxxiv] Although the pandemic exacerbated the alarming need for “low-skilled” essential workers in health care and agriculture, scarcity had already hit these sectors as well as the tourism, construction, and manufacturing sectors in the preceding years. Care work is among the essential sectors hit hardest by worker scarcity, with Australia expecting 250,300 job openings by 2023,[xxxv] and the United States expecting 7.8 million job openings by 2026.[xxxvi] Additionally, the Canadian farmworker deficit is expected to double by 2029 from the 16,500 reported in 2017,[xxxvii] and the Australian[xxxviii] and U.S.[xxxix] agriculture sectors have been stressing the need for more workers as well. Further, 81 percent of U.S. construction businesses reported struggles finding qualified workers in 2020,[xl] expecting to be short 747,000 workers by 2026,[xli] and UK contractors reported difficulties with recruiting as well.[xlii] Even before the pandemic, U.S. construction firms reported 434,000 vacant jobs in 2019,[xliii] and Germany had approximately 225,000 unfilled positions in the construction sector in 2018.[xliv] With regard to the tourism sector, over two-thirds of surveyed German hoteliers and restaurateurs reported that a lack of workers was their top issue.[xlv] Overall, it is clear that sectors employing low-skilled workers in a variety of high-income countries are facing worker scarcity. And yet, the nations have been struggling to introduce an effective labor mobility program to sufficiently fill such gaps.

High-Income Countries Favor High-Skilled Migrants

Despite employers’ proven need to fill their low-skill openings, it has been difficult for foreign-born workers without any or with only limited schooling to come and work in high-income countries. In fact, during the past few years, the political appetite among EU member countries for the opening of new mobility pathways and admitting foreign-born workers is less than what is needed by the employing sectors,[xlvi] even though such pathways could help reduce irregular migration—another issue of concern to many high-income countries over the past few years. However, to achieve the desired reduction, the expansion of new mobility channels would have to be established in a way that sufficiently increases the incentives for workers and employers to avoid irregularity, combined with other enforcement measures.[xlvii] Currently, even when a nation’s government does explore labor mobility as a solution to increasing labor scarcity, the efforts often target workers with college and university degrees.

That shift is dramatic compared to historical approaches toward immigration in high-income countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia. While a hundred years ago, these nations’ mobility schemes emphasized attracting laborers[6] to fill low-skill jobs in factories and mines or on farms and ranches, today the focus is shifted toward recruiting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and management-level workers.[xlviii] Nowadays, politicians in the OECD member countries compete to attract what they believe to be “the best and brightest”[xlix] while controlling and reducing other migration channels, including low-skilled worker mobility.[l] While mobility channels for high-skilled workers tend to provide permanent pathways to the receiving countries, channels for low-skilled migrants are usually temporary and very restrictive.[li] The temporary pathways tend to be seasonal despite the need of many employing sectors to fill other low-skill year-round jobs. While temporary pathways for low-skilled workers may be more politically feasible, their restrictive nature may ultimately hurt both the employing sectors and foreign-born workers due to the number of barriers and constraints that must be overcome just so the worker can remain in the receiving country for a limited time.

There are very few channels through which employers in high-income countries may bring in nonseasonal low- and middle-skilled workers. For example, the U.S. mobility system currently provides zero pathways for nonseasonal occupations requiring less than a college degree. While there are programs for highly skilled temporary workers with a postsecondary education and for seasonal agricultural and nonagricultural workers,[lii] no pathways exist for workers to fill the country’s year-round shortages in low-skill sectors, such as care work[liii] and certain manufacturing occupations.[liv] Switzerland does not even allow individuals from non-EU countries to work unless they are considered “highly qualified,” which means they must hold a university degree and have professional work experience.[lv] Similarly, the Netherlands only has a few pathways to bring non-EU low- and middle-skilled workers.[lvi]

Some high-income countries appear generally open to receiving more foreign-born workers, but their programs are primarily focused on the admission of highly skilled workers. France, for example, has been relatively more amenable to labor mobility as the country seeks new ways of closing its job gaps. However, its channels have been selective, prioritizing workers with more schooling above others. Despite the growing demand for low- and middle-skilled workers in sectors such as agriculture, hospitality, and care work, the emphasis has been on recalibrating the mobility of highly skilled workers and students, as well as on family and humanitarian migration.[lvii] Although Canada provides opportunities for low-skilled workers to come through its temporary channels, they are, in most cases, disadvantaged compared with high-skilled workers, who have been given a clear path to permanent residency.[7],[lviii] Moreover, the opening to more low-skilled workers in Canada has been accompanied by a series of restrictions imposed on the program regarding employment, social residency, and family reunification.[lix] The United Kingdom’s newly introduced point-based system also disadvantages low-skilled workers[lx] and encourages employers to “move away” from relying on hiring from abroad.[lxi] Greater openness toward highly skilled over less skilled workers has been characteristic of the mobility schemes of many Southeast Asian countries as well. Singapore, for example, has novel policies to attract “foreign talent” and regulations for employing less skilled “foreign workers.” Hong Kong has a strictly regulated program for low-skilled migrant workers and a more open one for those with higher-level skills, under which the worker does not need a job offer and can eventually settle.[lxii]

It is important to note that seasonal work represents a significant exception to the above-described trend, but even those programs are designed to restrict low-skilled workers’ access to host countries. In the United States, for example, the nonagricultural seasonal worker program helps employers fill job vacancies during peak seasons. However, even though the program covers all sectors with seasonal need other than agriculture, it has been restricted by an annual cap of 66,000 workers.[lxiii] Although employers in those sectors have been calling for an increase since the early 2000s when their need began to considerably exceed the 66,000 limit, the quota has remained constant since the 1990s, preventing more workers from entering the country.[8],[lxiv] This trend is apparent also in countries that have recently piloted new programs for admitting seasonal workers. In 2019, the British government announced the beginning of its Seasonal Workers Pilot, or the “Initial Pilot,” through which farmers can recruit a limited number of temporary workers.[9] The original pilot program was set up to provide visas for 2,500 seasonal migrant workers to come to the United Kingdom in 2019; the number increased to 10,000 in 2020;[lxv] and for 2021, the quota has been expanded to 30,000 workers.[lxvi] However, that is still far from filling the 80,000-worker gap reported by UK farmers.[lxvii] And what’s more, on its website, the UK government still calls for the recruitment of domestic workers and automation in effort to “move away from a heavy reliance on low skilled overseas workers.”[lxviii]

The Covid-19 pandemic, which caused an unprecedented shortage of essential workers, forced some high-income countries to implement fast-track immigration measures to address the situation, allowing more foreign-born workers with skill levels categorized as low or middle to come or remain for a longer period. Italy gave 600,000 undocumented migrants work permits in recognition of the need for these workers to provide care and put food on the table during the crisis.[lxix] Portugal has temporarily regularized all migrants who had applied for a residency permit before the declaration of the state of emergency. Despite border closures, Germany, the United Kingdom, Finland, and other countries have made special provisions to fly in seasonal agricultural workers.[lxx],[lxxi]In Canada, Prince Edward’s Island has fast-tracked immigration processes for health workers and truckers; and Nova Scotia has done the same for nurses.[lxxii] 

Nevertheless, the argument that high-income countries tend to prefer and favor so-called high-skilled over low-skilled foreign-born workers is also evident in the discrepancy of the rights provided to each of the two groups. As Martin Ruhs suggests in his book The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration, programs targeting more highly skilled foreign-born workers tend to grant such workers greater rights than do the low-skill programs. This trend stems from the fact that the pool of highly qualified workers who are willing to migrate is relatively small, allowing selected individuals to choose among receiving countries, thereby prompting the competing destinations to offer high wages as well as more substantial rights. On the other hand, because the number of potential foreign-born workers willing to accept low-skill jobs is virtually unlimited, receiving countries often provide them with wages, employment conditions, and rights that violate local laws and are that fall significantly below international standards.[lxxiii] The countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC, formerly known as the Gulf Cooperation Council) are among the most open to low-skilled workers, representing a clear exception to the pattern described above. However, they also provide these individuals with very weak labor standards and limited rights. Singapore is similarly quite open to foreign-born workers while also imposing considerable restrictions on the rights of low-skilled workers. Despite recent efforts to raise the bar on worker protections, numerous reports continue to demonstrate how foreign-born workers’ rights are being abused.[lxxiv]

Why Are Low-Skilled Workers Out of the High-Income Countries’ Spotlight?

Lawmakers’ decisions regarding the regulation of the admission of foreign-born workers depend on national policy goals, such as economic efficiency and national security, given certain constraints, including domestic and international legal restrictions or a limited ability to control immigration flows.[lxxv] According to Ruhs, there are at least three reasons why high-income countries are more likely to favor highly skilled foreign-born workers: (1) they expect that such workers will better complement the existing skills and capital of their population; (2) they value the importance of human capital and knowledge for long-term economic growth as predicted by endogenous growth models; and (3) the dependence of the overall fiscal impact of immigration on workers’ earnings, which tend to be linked to their skills. In other words, a highly skilled foreign-born worker will likely pay more in taxes and be less eligible for welfare benefits than a worker with a lower skill level.

Since high-income countries tend to be quite knowledge-based, their lawmakers tend to think that recruiting “the best and brightest” in the “global competition to attract high-skilled migrants” will further speed up their countries’ technological advancement and development. A powerful lobby has helped shape the narrative around highly skilled workers, as hiring companies tend to be among the largest and best resourced to invest into their industry’s advocacy efforts. In the United States, for example, the most influential petitioners for high-skilled workers are multinational corporations, such as Deloitte, Apple, Cisco, Amazon, and Facebook, each with annual revenues in the billions of dollars. It is useful to compare this to the low-skilled nonagricultural temporary worker program in the United States, which serves companies from sectors such as landscaping and seafood processing, which generate much lower profits. There is nothing wrong with attracting highly skilled workers, but it should not be a country’s sole focus because employing sectors need workers with a wide variety of skills, experiences, and abilities.

Another explanation typically given by high-income countries to justify their preference for high-skill migration is the public attitude toward low-skilled workers. In 2018, a majority of surveyed individuals in high-income countries, including Sweden, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the United States, and France supported high-skill migration (figure 1),[lxxvi] while at the same time, many saw low-skilled migrants as a burden and believed they were taking jobs away from native-born workers.[lxxvii] Some recent surveys conducted in high-income EU countries and the United States show that most people support quite restrictive immigration measures, especially against migrants from certain ethnic backgrounds, and would like to see a decline in immigration flows to their countries. These attitudes appear to be driven by sociopsychological factors rather than economic concerns.[lxxviii]

Figure 1. Public Support for High-Skill Migration in Select High-Income Countries

Source: Connor, Phillip, and Neil G. Ruiz. “Majority of U.S. Public Supports High-Skilled Immigration.” Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Pew Research Center, January 22, 2019.

However, recent research showed that most people are not strictly for or against immigration but rather fall somewhere in the middle in that they are anxious, conflicted, or movable. Such individuals are usually quite open to some shifting of their views on immigration (movable), but they have concerns. This group is the most vulnerable to hostile narratives and misinformation spread by certain anti-immigration political actors, making it the main battleground for shaping public attitudes toward migration.[lxxix] At the same time, most people in this category could be convinced that their countries need more foreign-born workers at all skill levels if the argument were approached in a better way, demonstrating the economy’s need for these individuals. To address the hesitance of the “movable middle,” lawmakers in high-income countries should work together with immigration advocates to combat the hostile narratives around migration and come up with strategies to diminish misinformation and demonstrate the benefits that migrants bring to the society.

Figure 2. Grouping People based on their attitudes (including to immigration) in six countries

Source: Butcher, Paul, Helen Dempster, and Alberto-Horst Neidhardt. “Making the ‘Movable’ Middle More Open to Immigration.” MPC Blog. European University Institute, February 26, 2021.

Despite the hostile narratives around low-skilled foreign-born workers, research reveals how important their roles are to the lives of people in the receiving high-income countries, and how much they increase overall productivity. Foreign-born workers often perform difficult jobs—mowing lawns, picking berries, washing dishes, or building roads, as examples. In other words, such workers add to the economic complexity described by Hausmann, and thereby contribute to the economic growth of the receiving country. Additionally, as foreign-born workers enter occupations that require lower skill levels, native-born workers tend to move away from such jobs and begin to improve their economic status. In the United States, data show that the increase in foreign-born workers entering the country who willing to engage in lower-skill occupations allowed the native-born population to become more educated and skilled and to pursue better jobs.[lxxx] A separate study reveals that low-skill immigration into the United States allows highly skilled women to decrease the amount of time they spend on household work and significantly increase the number of hours they can dedicate to their field, including law or medicine.[lxxxi] Similar research found that the outsourcing of household production to temporary foreign domestic workers significantly contributed to the increased labor force participation of women, especially mothers of young children in Hong Kong.[lxxxii] Overall, the research suggests that immigration reduces the total cost of household services, prompts the native-born workforce to become more productive, and helps highly skilled women work additional hours or have more children.[lxxxiii]


To increase the complexity of their economies and thereby boost economic growth, high-income countries need workers with a broad variety of skills and the ability to learn—not only workers with a particular level of schooling. Given the demographic challenges faced by high-income countries, foreign-born workers could help fill job gaps. However, the traditional dichotomy of low- and high-skilled workers, solely based on an individual’s level of education, prevents their labor mobility systems, which tend to favor high-skilled workers, from bringing in foreign-born workers with a broader variety of skill sets. Moreover, the existing systems tend to ignore the fact that workers learn and gain more skills while on the job in the host country, which benefits both the receiving country and the country of origin as some workers return. A productive society includes people with a broad range of skills that complement each other. Therefore, in lieu of the simplistic skills dichotomy, workers should be seen as offering a “skills mix” composed of all their experiences and abilities gained in and out of school, as well as their interpersonal, communication, cultural, and other social skills. Rather than building mobility pathways based on a worker’s level of schooling, receiving countries should consider schemes based on the needs of their employing sectors.

Opening more sector-focused mobility pathways could also positively impact people from both receiving and sending nations. Such an expansion of pathways could enable more native-born workers to access additional education and skills and thereby improve their economic status while also serving as a crucial part of a nation’s development strategy by allowing foreign-born workers to return to their countries of origin with experiences and skills gained abroad, thereby helping their families and communities escape poverty.

[1] Sometimes referred to as unskilled.

[2] For example, New Zealand recognizes mid-level skills in its labor mobility scheme.

[3] Based on the United Nations’ zero migration scenario, the working-age populations of OECD countries will decline by more than 92 million by 2050, while at the same time the elderly population (over age 65) will grow by more than 100 million people.

[4] More on worker scarcity can be found in LaMP’s separate policy note here.

[5] More on how labor mobility helps workers escape poverty can be found in a previous LaMP’s note here.

[6] The focus was on bringing these workers from northwestern Europe, especially, the British Isles.

[7] Canada has recently decided to lower the number of points one needs to enter the country through its point-based system to a record low, allowing some low-skilled workers to settle in the country. However, the new measure is mostly focused on skilled migrants who are already in the country rather than new temporary workers that still face other barriers to entry.

[8] Even when the government decided to increase the cap in FY2017, FY2018, and FY2019 by 15,000, 15,000, and 30,000, respectively, through a one-time regulation, the total number of admitted workers remained well below the employers’ need.

[9] The program has been created in reaction to farmers’ worriers about potential lack of seasonal workers after the country exited the EU and introduced its new points-based immigration system that focuses mostly on attracting high-skilled workers as discussed above. Moreover, in summer 2020 during the first wave of COVID-19, the country launched its ‘Pick for Britain’ campaign that attracted only about 8,000 locals, way below the estimated 80,000 needed workers, which also added to the farmers’ worries.

[i] Hidalgo, César A., and Ricardo Hausmann. “The Building Blocks of Economic Complexity,” June 30, 2009.

[ii] Clemens, Michael, and Kate Gough. “Can Regular Migration Channels Reduce Irregular Migration? Lessons for Europe from the United States.” Center for Global Development, February 2018.

[iii] Best, E. (2017, May 3). How U.S. Employment Affects Returning Migrants. Retrieved October 25, 2020, from

[iv] Debnath, P. (2016, November). Leveraging Return Migration for Development: The Role of Countries of Origin (Rep.). Retrieved October 25, 2020, from KNOMAD website:

[v] Dumont, J.-C., and G. Spielvogel. “Return Migration: A New Perspective.” In International Migration Outlook, Part III. 2008. Paris: OECD Publishing.

[vi] Iskander, Natasha, and Nichola Lowe. “The Transformers: Immigration and Tacit Knowledge Development.” SSRN. NYU Wagner Research Paper No. 2011–01, January 23, 2011.

[vii] Weinar, Agnieszka, and Amanda von Koppenfels Klekowski. “Highly Skilled Migration: Concept and Definitions.” SpringerLink. IMISCOE Short Reader, May 28, 2020.

[viii] Moriarty, Andrew. “High Skilled Immigration – 5 Things to Know.”, September 8, 2020.

[ix] “The Guide to Visa Types and Work Permit Requirements.” How to get a Work Permit and Visa for Spain.InterNations GO!, September 14, 2020.

[x] “Point-Based Preference Immigration Treatment.” Highly Skilled Foreign Professional Visa. June Advisors Group. Accessed April 9, 2021.

[xi] “Overhauling the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.” Government of Canada. Accessed April 9, 2021.

[xii] “The Skills Mismatch.” Skills Mismatch. National Skills Coalition. Accessed April 9, 2021.

[xiii] Burrowes , Jennifer, Alexis Young, Joseph Fuller , and Manjari Raman. “Bridge the Gap: Rebuilding America’s Middle Skills.” Harvard Business School. Accessed April 9, 2021.

[xiv] Kosten, Dan. “Immigrants as Economic Contributors: They Are the New American Workforce.” National Immigration Forum, June 5, 2018.

[xv] “What Is Happening to Middle-Skill Workers?” OECD Employment Outlook 2020 : Worker Security and the COVID-19 Crisis: OECD iLibrary. OECD, July 7, 2020.

[xvi] Hooper, Kate. “Spain’s Labour Migration Policies in the Aftermath of Economic Crisis.” Migration Policy Institute Europe, 2019.

[xvii] Speare-Cole, Rebecca, and Emily Lawford. “What Is the Points-Based Immigration Bill, and What Is Classed as a ‘Low-Skill’ Job?” London Evening Standard. Evening Standard, July 13, 2020.

[xviii] Ashford, Ellie. “Employers Stress Need for Soft Skills.” Community College Daily. Community College Daily, January 16, 2019.,Effective%20communication%20(69%20percent).

[xix] Hagan, Jacqueline. “Defining Skill: The Many Forms of Skilled Immigrant Labor.” American Immigration Council, November 18, 2018.

[xx] Hagan, Jacqueline. “Defining Skill: The Many Forms of Skilled Immigrant Labor.” American Immigration Council, November 18, 2018.

[xxi] Hagan, Jacqueline. “Defining Skill: The Many Forms of Skilled Immigrant Labor.” American Immigration Council, November 18, 2018.

[xxii] Hagan, Jacqueline. “Defining Skill: The Many Forms of Skilled Immigrant Labor.” American Immigration Council, November 18, 2018.

[xxiii] Torpey, Elka. “Careers in Construction: Building Opportunity.” Career Outlook. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2018.

[xxiv] “Two Million Vacant Manufacturing Jobs by 2025…How Can We Tackle the Skills Gap?” GlobalTranz Enterprises, LLC., August 20, 2015.

[xxv] Gardner, Mary. “The Case for Low-Skilled Immigrants.” Opinion. The Hill, June 14, 2018.

[xxvi] O’Donnell, Megan, and Samantha Rick. “A Gender Lens on COVID-19: Investing in Nurses and Other Frontline Health Workers to Improve Health Systems.” Commentary and Analysis. Center For Global Development, March 25, 2020.

[xxvii] Smith, Rebekah, and Megan O’Donnell. “COVID-19 Pandemic Underscores Labor Shortages in Women-Dominated Professions.” Commentary and Analysis. Center For Global Development, May 13, 2020.

[xxviii] Mallet , Victor, Daniel Dombey , and Martin Arnold . “Pandemic Blamed for Falling Birth Rates across Much of Europe.” Coronavirus economic impact. Financial Times, March 10, 2021.

[xxix] MacGregor, Marion. “Europe: Few Routes for Unskilled Migrants.” Understanding Europe. Infomigrants, January 27, 2021.

[xxx] “New Immigration System: What You Need to Know.” GOV.UK. Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration, January 28, 2020.

[xxxi] “Overhauling the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.” Government of Canada. Accessed April 9, 2021.

[xxxii] O’Doherty, Hugo. “Canada Immigration Levels Plan: 2019-2021.” Immigration. Moving2Canada, October 31, 2018.

[xxxiii] Clemens, Michael, Reva Resstack, and Cassandra Zimmer. “The White House and the World: Harnessing Northern Triangle Migration for Mutual Benefit.” The White House and the World – Harnessing Northern Triangle Migration for Mutual Benefit. Center for Global Development, December 2020.

[xxxiv] McGrath, John. “Analysis of Shortage and Surplus Occupations 2020.” Employment, Social Affairs & Inclusion. European Commission, January 12, 2020.

[xxxv] Darby, Fi. “10 High Demand Jobs to Look out for in 2020.” SkillsTalk. UpSkilled, December 26, 2019.

[xxxvi] Campbell, Stephen. “New Research: 7.8 Million Direct Care Jobs Will Need to Be Filled by 2026.” PHI, January 24, 2019.

[xxxvii] Nosowitz, Dan. “Canada Has A Huge Agricultural Labor Shortage.” Modern Farmer, July 19, 2019.

[xxxviii] “4 Opportunities to Fix Australia’s Agriculture Labour Crisis.” Agricrew. Accessed July 7, 2020.

[xxxix] Duvall, Zippy. “Another Year of Farm Labor Shortages.” American Farm Bureau Federation – The Voice of Agriculture, July 10, 2019.

[xl] “Strong Demand For Work Amid Stronger Demand For Workers: The 2020 Construction Hiring And Business Outlook.” Associated General Contractors of America, 2019.

[xli] De Lea, Brittany. “As Construction Worker Shortage Worsens, Industry Asks Government for Help.” Fox Business, August 27, 2019.

[xlii] Price, David. “Labour Shortages Could Raise Rates ‘at Least 10%’.” Construction News, January 29, 2021.

[xliii] Cilia, Juliette. “The Construction Labor Shortage: Will Developers Deploy Robotics?,” July 31, 2019.

[xliv] Milovanovic, Vladimir. “Labour Shortage Set to Escalate Construction Costs in 2019.” 3lite, November 28, 2018.

[xlv] Rogers, Iain. “Germany’s Tourism Success Story Threatened by Worker Shortage.” Skift, December 24, 2019.

[xlvi] Chrysoloras, Nikos. “Europe’s Bid for Self-Reliance Overlooks Need for Human Capital.” Bloomberg, February 16, 2021.

[xlvii] Clemens, Michael, and Kate Gough. “Can Regular Migration Channels Reduce Irregular Migration? Lessons for Europe from the United States.” Center for Global Development, February 2018.

[xlviii] Chiswick , Barry R. “Immigration: High-Skilled versus Low-Skilled Labour?” Australian Government. Productivity Commission. Accessed April 9, 2021.

[xlix] Kapur , Devesh, and John McHale. “Give Us Your Best and Brightest: The Global Hunt for Talent and Its Impact on the Developing World.” Center For Global Development, September 1, 2005.

[l] Czaika, Mathias, and Christopher R. Parsons. “The Gravity of High-Skilled Migration Policies.” KNOMAD, March 2016.

[li] Ruhs, Martin. “The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration.” Princeton University. Princeton University Press, August 25, 2013.

[lii] Felter, Claire. “U.S. Temporary Foreign Worker Visa Programs.” Council on Foreign Relations. Council on Foreign Relations, July 7, 2020.

[liii] Darby, Fi. “10 High Demand Jobs to Look out for in 2020.” Upskilled, December 26, 2019.

[liv] Sundblad, Willem. “The Manufacturing Labor Shortage Is Still Coming, Stay Prepared.” Forbes, April 23, 2020.

[lv] “Non-EU/EFTA Nationals.” State Secretariat for Migration. Switzerland, December 31, 2020.

[lvi] “Working in the Netherlands.” Immigration and Naturalisation Service. Ministry of Justice and Security. Accessed April 15, 2021.

[lvii] Beirens, Hanne, Camille Le Coz, Kate Hooper, Karoline Popp, Jan Schneider, and Jeanette Süß. “Legal Migration for Work and Training: Mobility Options to Europe for Those Not in Need of Protection.” Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration. Migration Policy Institute Europe, 2019.

[lviii] Nakache, Delphine. “Why Canada’s Immigration Policy Is Unfair to Temporary Foreign Workers.” World of IDEAS. University of Ottawa, 2012.

[lix] Ruhs, Martin. “The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration.” Princeton University. Princeton University Press, August 25, 2013.

[lx] “What’s a Skilled Worker? And Other Immigration Questions.” BBC News, February 22, 2020.

[lxi] “The UK’s Points-Based Immigration System: Policy Statement.” GOV.UK. UK Government, February 19, 2019.

[lxii] Ruhs, Martin. “The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration.” Princeton University. Princeton University Press, August 25, 2013.

[lxiii] Bruno, Andorra. “The H-2B Visa and the Statutory Cap: In Brief.” Federation of American Scientists. Congressional Research Service, April 17, 2018.

[lxiv] Bruno, Andorra. “The H-2B Visa and the Statutory Cap: In Brief.” Federation of American Scientists. Congressional Research Service, April 17, 2018.

“Report of the Visa Office 2019.” Travel.State.Gov. U.S. Department of State. Accessed April 15, 2021.

“Performance Data.” Employment and Training Administration . U.S. Department of Labor . Accessed April 15, 2021.

[lxv] “Farmers Welcome Extension to Seasonal Workers Pilot in 2021.” Tallents Solicitors, January 18, 2021.

[lxvi] “Seasonal Workers Pilot Request for Information.” GOV.UK. UK Government, January 19, 2021.

[lxvii] Lindsay, Frey. “With No EU Workers Coming, The U.K. Agriculture Sector Is In Trouble.” Forbes Magazine, March 24, 2020.

[lxviii] “Seasonal Workers Pilot Request for Information.” GOV.UK. UK Government, January 19, 2021.

[lxix] Kington, T. “Italy to give 600,000 migrants the right to stay.” The Times. May 07, 2020.

[lxx] Eddy, M. “Farm Workers Airlifted Into Germany Provide Solutions and Pose New Risks.” New York Times. May 18, 2020.

[lxxi] Corker, S. “Eastern Europeans to be flown in to pick fruit and veg.” BBC. April 16, 2020.

[lxxii] Moroz, H., Testaverde, M. and Shrestha, M. “Potential Responses to the COVID-19 Outbreak in Support of Migrant Workers.” COVID Living Paper. World Bank Group. May 26, 2020.

[lxxiii] Ruhs, Martin. “The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration.” Princeton University. Princeton University Press, August 25, 2013.

[lxxiv] Ruhs, Martin. “The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration.” Princeton University. Princeton University Press, August 25, 2013.

[lxxv] Ruhs, Martin. “The Price of Rights: Regulating International Labor Migration.” Princeton University. Princeton University Press, August 25, 2013.

[lxxvi] Connor, Phillip, and Neil G. Ruiz. “Majority of U.S. Public Supports High-Skilled Immigration.” Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project. Pew Research Center, January 22, 2019.

[lxxvii] “Low-Skilled Immigrants May Make Some Poor Brits Poorer. Here’s Why That’s Not the Whole Story.” Our Economy, October 7, 2019.

[lxxviii] Javdani, Mohsen. “Public Attitudes toward Immigration-Determinants and Unknowns.” IZA World of Labor, March 2020.

[lxxix] Butcher, Paul, Helen Dempster, and Alberto-Horst Neidhardt. “Making the ‘Movable’ Middle More Open to Immigration.” MPC Blog. European University Institute, February 26, 2021.

[lxxx] Bier, David J. “Immigrants Are Not Causing Low‐ Skill Natives to Quit Working.” CATO At Liberty. CATO Institute, September 12, 2016.

[lxxxi] Cortés, Patricia, and José Tessada. “Low-Skilled Immigration and the Labor Supply of Highly Skilled Women.” JSTOR. American Economic Association, July 2011.

[lxxxii] Cortés, Patricia, and Jessica Pan. “Outsourcing Household Production: Foreign Domestic Workers and Native Labor Supply in Hong Kong.” JSTOR. The University of Chicago Press, April 2013.

[lxxxiii] Furtado, Delia. “Immigrant Labor and Work-Family Decisions of Native-Born Women.” IZA World of Labor. University of Connecticut, USA, and IZA, Germany, April 2015.