Migration and Home Affairs

European Dialogue on Skills and Migration

In 2015 the European Commission decided to launch the European Dialogue on Skills and Migration, to create a platform fostering a long-standing dialogue with different private and public sector stakeholders on the issues of labour migration and labour market integration of third-country nationals. The launch event took place on 27-28 January 2016.

Migration represents an essential resource and an opportunity, both for migrants and Europe, in EU labour markets. This is even more true in a context where the continent is facing a severe demographic decline and skills shortages in key sectors.

Integration in the labour market of legally residing third-country nationals

The inclusion of migrants in the labour market is key to ensure their effective integration into the host societies and their positive impact on the EU economy; this entails fully using their skills and realising their economic potential. They can contribute to addressing skills shortages in certain sectors at all skills levels. This is particularly important in the current context where several Member States are confronted with an increasing number of recently arrived migrants, most of whom have migrated for humanitarian reasons and not on economic grounds.

Ensuring that migrants learn the language, get their educational and professional skills validated/recognised and receive adequate training is essential for their overall integration and positive economic impact in the receiving societies. Skills validation and recognition of qualifications are thus key issues: among highly educated third-country nationals in employment, more than 40% work below their qualification levels (i.e. in medium or even low skills occupations). Member States and the European Union as a whole – as well as economic stakeholders - have both an interest and responsibility to put all skills to good use.

Skills shortage and demography

While ensuring an effective integration of third-country nationals, including into the labour market of the host country, is essential, attracting skills and talents from abroad in key sectors is and will remain crucial for the EU labour markets.

According to CEDEFOP projections, between 2012 and 2025, a sharp increase in the number of jobs employing higher-educated labour is expected (from 68 to 83 million, or + 23%). For example, in the health sector, a potential shortfall of around 1 million workers is estimated by 2020, rising up to 2 million if long-term care and ancillary professions are taken into account (estimations made in 2012). This means that around 15% of total care would not be covered compared to 2010.

In addition to an ever increasing skills shortage, the EU will also have to face demographic challenges. The working-age population in the EU started to decline in 2014, posing challenges for sustainable growth. In the next decade (2017-27), Eurostat demographic projections indicate that the working-age population in the EU-28 will decline by almost 10 million (or -3.0%). In the EU today, most migrants are of working age and are therefore likely to contribute to the EU economy. Without the positive net migration from outside the EU, this decline would be even sharper, dropping by 18.5 million in the next decade (or -5.6%). In the longer run, the EU's working-age population would decline very sharply without the contribution of migration, i.e. by 68 million between 2017 and 2047 (or a decline by more than 20%). Looking at the longer term, the demographic trends and the expected shortages in key sectors of the European economy are a challenge. Migration will thus remain an important way to address such challenges and contribute to the EU growth and competitiveness.

Moreover, the entrepreneurial potential of migrants should not be underestimated. Entrepreneurs with a migrant background already represent an important pool of business founders in Europe and contribute significantly to growth and creation of jobs in their host countries.