Reaching a “Fair Deal” on Talent: Emigration, Circulation, and Human Capital in Countries of Origin
Skilled migration brings widely acknowledged economic benefits for both destination countries and migrants themselves. The impact of skilled emigration on countries of origin has been the subject of much more debate. Despite a growing academic consensus that origin countries can benefit from emigration and the circulation of skills, it remains a challenge to enable the full exploitation of this potential. Equally formidable is the task of ensuring that migration does not waste the skills of those who move, and that migrants can use skills to their full potential—both at destination and if they return to their country of origin.
In recent decades, numerous policy measures and independent initiatives have sought to address these challenges. The initiatives can be broadly grouped into four categories: developing skills in countries of origin before departure; applying those skills productively at destination; reintegrating returnees into origin-country labor markets; and enabling diaspora members to contribute to the skills base in countries of origin. While these initiatives vary enormously in their design, scale, and purpose, some common themes emerge.
This report by MPI's Transatlantic Council on Migration provides an overview of policy measures and initiatives in this area, focusing on projects that develop skills and human capital. The transferability of skills is at the heart of most of the initiatives, which—if successful—promise to reduce the waste of human capital that often accompanies migration. Merely certifying skills is not enough, as most of these projects recognize. To make full use of their training migrants also need local connections, work experience, and mentoring. Entrepreneurs, similarly, can benefit from assistance with regulatory and logistical requirements, not just financial support. These needs exist not just among migrants moving for the first time, but also among those who would like to return to their country of origin.