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    27 May 2017

    Migration & demographics

    G7 looks to the future

    With 244 million migrants and 65 million asylum seekers worldwide, it is inevitable that the coming G7 Summit will have to broach the subject of migration.

    Heads of State and governments of the planet’s most industrialized countries are set to establish how to proceed, reach conclusions and negotiate a declaration. The starting point is certain, chiselled in the above-mentioned figures and in a trend that now seems consolidated and irreversible: the populations of the advanced societies are aging progressively and are in need of extra brains and brawn if they intend to maintain their own socio-economic sustainability.

     

    Stefano Scarpetta, Director of Labour, Employment and Social Affairs at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has written on the organization’s website that “around 120 million people resident in OECD countries were born elsewhere. One in five is an immigrant or the child of immigrants. Every year, in the last decade, an average of over four million immigrants settle in OECD countries,” he went on to say, in light of these figures that, “immigration is a fact of life and it is destined to continue.”

     

    There are obstacles and solutions. Among the first, of utmost importance is the fact that the sectors in which immigrant labour is needed are usually those that do not require high skills levels: agriculture, social assistance, low value-added production. Nevertheless, often those who migrate to Western countries are individuals with a medium to high level of education.

     

    This contradiction stands out, for example, in the case of immigrant women, as has been confirmed in a document produced by the Italian Presidency of G7. In the world’s most powerful countries, which are home to only 40% of women immigrants on a global level, women work mainly in fields such as education, health and social care. “Many of these jobs,” reads the document, “are precarious, temporary and not adequately paid.” Therefore, taking into account that “the immigrants to G7 countries are generally qualified,” it follows that “the probability of encouraging their permanent residence, naturalization and family reunification, are low.”

     

    Also in the United States the data reveals that immigrants, above all the more recent arrivals, are decidedly qualified. The job search platform Indeed.com, elaborating federal data, has highlighted that 48% of those who arrived in the country after 2010, are older than 25 and are graduates. The figure for the same age group in the period 2006-2010 was 35% and between 2005-2010 it was 27%. These changes are reflected in the employment market. The more recent immigrants manage to find work more easily, for example in the sector of information and communications technology.

     

    According to Professor Maurizio Ambrosini, lecturer in Sociology and Migration at the University of Milan, it is necessary to move away from the reasoning that results in immigrants working on the lower rungs of the employment ladder, which they are seemingly willing to do.

     

    Some practical solutions have already been put forward. For example, the OECD in a paper some years ago which is still relevant proposed some of them. The first is based on the element of trust between employer and potential employee through the establishment of a more direct contact between the two in order to achieve an improved exchange from the outset. A second proposed to correct the relationship between supply and demand, usually determined based on the former but in this case, utilizing, lists of the professions with more posts vacant and involving the drafting of lists of “potential migrants” who can present themselves and explain what they can do and want to do. The third formula, concerning mainly the European area, related to investment - by the potential immigrant - in learning the language of one of the EU countries whose native tongue is spoken little outside of its own territory. In other words, if immigrants learn languages other than English, German and French, they are better equipped to be distributed across the various countries of the EU, going to live in countries less affected by migration flows but where the employment market is nevertheless strong. In this sense the OECD is suggesting significant investment in attracting foreign students, i.e. future talents.

     

    G7 represents a great opportunity to draft the future of a phenomenon that will increasingly shape the lives of our societies and that should be governed with a vision ‘from on high’ so to say. We will see if one particular route is chosen ahead of the others. What will happen tomorrow will be decided today.