Labour Migration and Decent Work

Labour Migration and Decent Work

The majority of international migrants are motivated by the prospect of higher wages and better employment opportunities, responding to the demand for their skills abroad. In this sense, migration is a deliberate and often successful livelihood strategy that has a positive impact on poverty reduction and on the development of the countries of origin and destination.

Today's international migration flows are complex and diverse. In contrast to earlier permanent and settler movements, temporary migration is now most common. International migrant workers today are a mixed group consisting of seasonal workers, temporary contract workers (mainly low- or semi-skilled), high-skilled migrant workers, permanent migrants, and workers with irregular status, including under certain circumstances victims of trafficking and forced labour. Additionally, in situations of mixed migration the boundaries between labour migration (migrant workers) and forced migration (refugees and asylum seekers) become blurred.

Migrant workers send home remittances, returning migrants and the diaspora transfer skills and knowledge to their home country and trade between countries of origin and destination increases thanks to informal personal networks that are created through migration. In countries of destination migrant workers contribute to development by filling labour force gaps, by providing skills that are in demand, both in high- and low-skill sectors , and by increasing the productivity and competitiveness of the economy.

However, labour migrants, and in particular vulnerable groups like unskilled and female migrants, often face precarious working and living conditions and a lack of social and legal protection, which puts them at risk of discrimination, rights violations, exploitation, and abuse. This in return - apart from being detrimental to the situation of the migrant workers and their families - erodes the potential benefits of migration and undermines its positive impact on development.

Despite the predominantly positive outcomes of labour migration, poor working and living conditions, insufficient protection of labour rights, unethical recruitment practices, and access to justice and services for migrants are big challenges in many parts of the world. These issues need to be addressed jointly by all relevant stakeholders, including countries of origin and destination, civil society and the private sector, with the aim of making labour migration a safe and informed choice for all migrant workers.

- There are about 234 million international migrants, representing 3%of the global population.
- Women make up almost 50 per cent of international migrants.
- Migration today happens mainly for work. Migrant workers together with their families account for about - 90 per cent of total international migration.
- At least one third of international migration is South – South migration.