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About this workshop

A workshop aimed at bringing together an interdisciplinary group of established and early career scholars in order to carry out a stock taking exercise and explore new avenues for future research.

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Over the last two decades a growing number of governments have pursued policies to attract and retain skilled and high-skilled migrants including academics, students, medical personnel, engineers, entrepreneurs and, more generally, high-income earners. In addition to the traditional immigration countries an increasing number of ‘emerging economies’ have started to actively attract and recruit high-skilled migrants. However, we still have little understanding about the actual effectiveness of such policies in attracting the ‘best and brightest’ independently from other economic, political or social factors that affect people’s migration decisions. This workshop will therefore bring together migration experts to explore the impact and effectiveness of such ‘talent policies’ in attracting (back) and retaining high-skilled migrants.

The scientific debate on migration policy effectiveness has generally focused on governments’ efforts to control or reduce low-skilled, asylum and irregular migration or to encourage the return of such categories of migrants. Surprisingly little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of policies to attract or retain high-skilled workers. A better understanding of migration policies and their effectiveness requires a systematic knowledge of the broader economic, social and political macro-structural drivers of migration in both origin and sending countries.

This implies that, when assessing the impact of high-skilled migration, we also need to consider other policies, such as those pertaining to labour markets, housing, education, taxation, trade and social security. Policies directed at ‘improving’ general conditions and opportunities for migrants in destination countries may be even more relevant and effective than targeted migration policies in increasing the general attractiveness of destinations in a world where countries, cities and companies increasingly compete for both high-skilled and high-income migrants. This workshop examines the following key questions:

  • What is a high-skilled migrant? How has high-skilled migration evolved over the past two decades? Are major trends and patterns likely to continue in the future? What characterizes occupational mobility patterns? What role do female high-skilled workers play?
  • What type of policies do different actors (states, companies, universities, cities etc.) implement in order to target and attract potential high-skilled migrants and returnees? How has the economic crisis changed high-skilled immigration policies?
  • What is the relative importance of migration policies compared to other contextual factors and socio-economic policies? How effective are policies that aim to attract (back) high skilled migrants?
  • How do emerging economies fare in this global competition for talent? What type of policies are implemented in OECD and non-OECD countries in order to retain or attract back highly skilled people, and how effective are these policies?