The migration of skilled labor is often seen as unfair, benefiting rich countries (through receiving well-skilled workers to fill labor demands) at the expense of poor ones (who bear the financial burden of education and experience a brain drain of their skilled population). This concern is particularly acute in the health sector. A common reaction is to call for limits or taxes on the migration of skilled workers. But there is an alternative: Change the terms on which migration among the highly trained occurs, so that the countries involved agree to terms that are mutually beneficial.
Michael Clemens, in a new article in the IZA Journal of Labor Policy, has proposed a novel policy tool to regulate skilled migration. A ‘Global Skill Partnership’ can connect skilled immigration directly with skill formation in the migrant-origin country—on terms beneficial to both countries and without restrictions on mobility.
In a Global Skill Partnership, the two countries agree up front on mechanisms for employers, governments, or workers at the destination to support technical training at the origin, for both migrants and non-migrants. Destination countries benefit from large cost savings in training, filling shortage occupations, and recruiting on equitable terms. Origin countries benefit from training support, net increases in human capital, stronger training institutions, and technology transfer. And migrants benefit from mobility to international professional opportunities.