Law and society blog

The EU in the global race for talents

07.09.2017 15:03:01

Out of all forms of labour migration, the international mobility of highly-skilled individuals in particular has been receiving more and more attention around the world. While countries like Canada and Australia have been doing this for years, many European countries are only now beginning to acknowledge the need to attract and facilitate the mobility of skilled workers from all over the world to be able to compete in the new economy.

‘The private sector has a lot to gain from skilled labour migration,’ stresses Karoli Hindriks, the founder and CEO of Jobbatical. ‘Many Estonian and European companies are trying to compete with Silicon Valley, but we lack one of the key advantages that companies there have – namely the access to Silicon Valley’s diverse talent pool. Many of whom are often migrants. In fact, according to the Silicon Valley Index, in 2016 nearly 74% of all computer and mathematical workers aged 25 to 44 were foreign-born. We do not have that here in Europe. Instead, nearly all countries in Europe are falling short of vital workers – Empirica estimated that in 2017 approx. 410 000 workers were missing from the ICT sector in Europe and the demand is growing each year. This is holding back general economic growth. Let’s take the example of high-tech ICT jobs. According to economist Enrico Moretti, because of a multiplier effect, each new high-tech job creates five additional jobs. In other words, if 2 000 skilled ICT workers were to move to Estonia, it could lead to the creation of an additional 10 000 jobs.’

Estonia has decided to address this issue during the Presidency of the Council of the

European Union. The Estonian EU Presidency Conference on Migration, entitled ‘The EU in the Global Race for Talents: Challenges and Solutions in Strengthening the EU’s Competitiveness’, will take place at Tallinn University on 21–22 September 2017.

This two-day conference will address the connections between immigration and economic development, review the measures in place at supranational, national and regional levels to devise strategies to enhance European competitiveness over the next decades and close the gaps in European labour markets. Topics addressed throughout the conference will include, but are not limited to the following:

  • What are the connections between labour migration and economic development?
  • What factors limit positive economic effects of migration?
  • Where do skilled workers go and why?
  • How can the private sector facilitate talent mobility?
  • What should be the role of the EU and national ‘ governments in the global race for talents?

The conference brings together stakeholders from different EU Member States, the European Commission, the European Parliament, European Migration Network (EMN), intergovernmental organisations, the private sector and the general public.

If the first day is comprised of more traditional panel discussions with speakers from the European Commission and OECD to the people behind INSEAD’s Global Talent Competitive

ness Index and Estonia’s own trailblazers in the field of talent mobility, Karoli Hindriks and Sten Tamkivi, the second day offers participants with an opportunity to discuss these issues in workshops. The three workshop strands, dealing with issues related to attracting and retaining students, employees and startup founders, are organised by the Estonian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Enterprise Estonia, Startup Estonia, Deloitte, Archimedes Estonia, Tallinn University alongside the Ministry of the Interior and EMN.

The involvement of the private sector and skilled migrants themselves is particularly important as they are often excluded from these debates, yet they are the directly impacted by policy decisions in the field of talent migration. This conference, held in the framework of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, offers a unique opportunity to bring everyone to the table to encourage an exchange of ideas between key stakeholders in this field and devise plans to move forward. Now is the time for both public and private entities to make retaining and attracting human capital their priority.

Published in Life in Estonia magazine by Ave Lauren, Migration Expert at Tallinn University School of Governance, Law and Society.

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