Migrants and the Changing Talent Pool

As 2016 comes to a close, Talent Management 360 is offering detailed insights into some of the year’s top news stories and speculating on how these stories will likely continue to impact talent management in the coming year. The first article in our series examines one of 2016’s most devastating events: the ongoing migrant crisis.

mWhile talent management is admittedly the least of most people’s concerns in relation to the migrant crisis, the reality is that highly talented professionals from around the globe are on the move in higher numbers than we’ve witnessed since World War II. This is changing the workforce and talent recruitment and management issues on a profound level, especially in nations currently receiving high numbers of migrants.

What We Know about Migrants and the Economy

In a recent report by McKinsey & Company, some of the world’s top talent management researchers considered the impact the migrant crisis is already having on talent management. The authors of Global Migrations Impact and Opportunity emphasize that while 10% of migrants are refugees fleeing war and other hardships, most migrants move for economic reasons. They further noted:

  • There are currently over 247 million cross-border migrants on the move, primarily for economic reasons.
  • Among the roughly 10% of migrants on the move for reasons other than economics, 24 million are from the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Approximately 50% of the world’s migrants move from developing to developed countries.
  • Between 2000 to 2014, immigrants contributed 40 to 80% of labor force growth in destination countries.
  • Migrants contributed an estimated $6.7 trillion, or 9.4 percent, to global GDP in 2015.
  • North America captured up to $2.5 trillion of this output while an estimated $2.3 trillion went to Western Europe.
  • Migrants of all skill levels can make a positive economic contribution to the economy.

Impacts on Talent Recruitment and Management

While there is no question that migrants are a notable part of the global economy and workforce, there is also no doubt that they tend to fall short when compared to native-born workers, and this holds true in the United States and around the world. As reported by McKinsey & Company, part of the problem has to do with the fact that many nations’ fail to take labor market needs into account when admitting migrants:

Many developed economies set their entry policies by trying to strike a balance between economic needs (through skills-based or labor-driven admissions) and other priorities
such as family reunification and humanitarian commitments. To that end, some set overall
quotas or rely on points-based systems to determine which applications for entry should be prioritized. Although points-based systems are often touted as the most effective approach, they do not always produce a perfect result in the labor market. Even highly skilled immigrants admitted under these criteria experience higher unemployment than comparable native born workers, due to barriers such as inefficient matching, their lack of local networks, and a tendency among local employers not to recognize foreign credentials. In short, no entry management policy approach has proven universally effective at solving for all complexities.

While there may be no one single solution, there is a strong sense that by changing how nation’s recruit migrants, the employment and wage prospects of newcomers can improve. This, however, will require increased coordination between immigration officials and businesses.

Migrant Success Stories

A major misconception about migrants and specifically, refugees is that they are more likely to take then give back to local and national economies. While some vulnerable refugees made require more support, this is not necessarily always the case. Many migrants, even those fleeing war, arrive in their new nations eager to get back to work and even to restart their businesses.

A particularly heartwarming story that emerged in 2016 involves Peace by Chocolate. Started by a family of chocolate makers who once ran a large chocolate factory in Syria, Peace by Chocolate was launched just months after the owners arrived in Canada after living for three years in a refugee camp in Lebanon. As stated on their website, the Hadhad family’s factory was destroyed in a bombing that forced the family to leave Syria permanently with virtually nothing but a few personal effects. When they eventually moved to Canada, local business owners, including people at a local farmers’ market in the small town of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, helped the family start up their business again and market their products both locally and globally. Their story of success made headlines, however, when it was shared with the world in a speech made by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the United Nations this past fall.

Of course, the Hadhad family are just once example of the ways in which today’s migrants are not only changing the talent pool in North America,Western Europe and other target destinations for migrants, but also changing who our talent recruiters will be in the near future. After all, in the case of the Hadhad family who are quickly scaling up their business, it seems likely that they will soon be recruiting local workers to support their enterprise.

December 11, 2016   Updated :December 23, 2016      

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