Did you know nearly 5% of the global population is a migrant worker? – That’s roughly 323 million of us, larger than the population of the United States.
International labour migration is defined as the movement of people from one country to another for employment purposes. It is not a new phenomenon, but has always been part of human history. For example, it was one of the driving forces of the post-World War II period when Europe was rebuilt using the assistance of migrant communities, including from Turkey. Since then and because of the spread of globalization, labour mobility has moved to the top of policy agendas across the world. The number of people moving for work today has grown exponentially. In 2000, the number of economic migrants was 90 million. Just 15 years later, that number rose to 323 million – that’s a 258 percent increase. However, despite the efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant workers, many remain vulnerable and assume significant risks during the migration process.
Recent studies have shown that well-managed labour migration has far-reaching potential for migrants, their communities, the countries from which they come, destination countries and for employers. For destination countries, labour migrants can bring cultural diversity, encourage economic growth and fill labour gaps. For countries of origin, labour migration eases unemployment rates, increases GDP due to remittances, promotes economic development through diaspora engagement as well as infuse new skillsets into local markets from returning migrants. In the last fifteen years, migrant remittances have increased fivefold to an expected USD 454 billion in 2015. The evidence is there. When properly managed, labour migration does have economic benefits both for migrants and the communities.
Well-managed labour migration requires cooperation among among states, civil society, NGOs, private sector and intergovernmental organizations. As an expert in labour migration management, IOM Turkey has experience supporting the government to reduce irregular employment and vulnerability of economic migrants, to promote registered employment, to build central and local capacity of institutions and to attract qualified foreign labour in line with the needs of the labor market.
Labour migration and human development (LHD) is an increasingly important focus of IOM Turkey’s programming that provides evidence-based guidance for migration management policies. Our LHD program conducted a sectorial needs analysis to explore Turkey’s foreign labour needs in selected provinces and economic sectors and also a situation analysis to assess Turkey’s legal and normative framework on labour migration management.
As part of the UN Joint Programme, IOM Turkey encouraged labour market integration of 1,200 unemployed migrant youths by providing basic life skills training in Antalya province. These youths (18-29 year olds) were then provided with vocational trainings to support their employability through local employment agencies.
IOM Turkey’s labour migration advocacy is in its infancy, but already Turkey has made great strides to enhance its labour migration policies, not only for Syrians but also for all migrants. For example, the 2013 Law on Foreigners and International Protection institutionalized migration management by establishing the Directorate General of Migration Management. IOM Turkey also partners closely with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to assess the foreign labour needs of Turkey’s labour market, to support its institutional partners on national employment policy, to counter irregular labour migration, and to advocate for the rights of migrant workers. IOM Turkey is committed to supporting to Turkey to strengthen institutional capacity to combat labour irregular migration, labour exploitation, human trafficking and to promote the registered employment of foreigners in Turkey.