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Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

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Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 15. 2011

Welcome to the 6th online discussion forum on the effects of labour migration policies on young people!

There are probably more issues, arguments and perspectives than what we have outlined in this brief background paper.

There are probably a new wave of policy reforms, researches and social dialogue processes being devoted to the issue of youth and migration.  This  APYouthNet online discussion forum presents this chance for an interactive sharing of knowledge, ideas and developments among different persons, institutions and sectors championing the cause of the youth.  Governments of both source and receiving countries, youth organizations, civil society organizations, international organizations, the academia, experts in youth and migration issues, and other stakeholders are invited and welcomed to participate to enrich these discourses.

To kick start the discussion, we welcome your thoughts on the following:

1.    With a very high incidence of youth unemployment globally, how do you think labour migration makes a sensible option for the youth?

2.    Is labour migration policy in your country explicitly defined? Please expound on how implementing programmes are consistent with laws and policy definition?

3.    What do you think are the criteria which moves the youth to aspire to work abroad?  How will you rank these criteria in terms of how you think the youth sees the importance of each of the criteria?

We look forward to a very interesting discussion!


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at May 16. 2011

Hello Ricardo. My name is Shaun Kennedy. I am emailing from the Pacific Island country of Vanuatu. As you will be aware, the Pacific region will present quite a different context regarding labour migration policy to many of the countries in the Asian region. However, in reply to your introductory question re: Q1 I think yes - labour migration is a sensible option for unemployed youth in Vanuatu and also a sensible option for policy makers. How? Because the labour migration programmes to Australia and New Zealand are well managed by both sending and receiving countries and the incidents of worker exploitation is relatively small. Unemployed youth people gain from international experience and exposure to different work ethics, in addition to earning a good minimum wage and sending or saving remittances. Q2: yes, I think labour migration policy in Vanuatu is well defined and we have our own specifically drafted legislation. Vanuatu and the Melanesian region has very limited outlets for labour migration - the seasonal work programmes with New Zealand and Australia comprise almost all the workers who go overseas. Q3: Motivation for youth to work overseas is the opportunity to make money to support their families and their future. There are very limited employment opportunities for youth in Vanuatu, especially for those who do not have good quality formal education and / or those who do not live in the urban areas.

I am very much looking forward to another good discussion forum from AP YouthNet and I hope the Pacific region can be represented throughout.


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Gian Carlo G. Bero at May 16. 2011

Hi I'm Carlo from the Philippines. I'm currently a student majoring in Electronics and Communications Engineering. I also have a blog about the Philippines' local and international internship programs.


To start, I myself is 70% inclined to working abroad. There are lots of opportunities in my field when I go to neighboring countries like Singapore or Japan. In terms of my chosen career path, employment here in the country is very specific to courses like Information Technology or Computer Science which doesn't utilize what I've learned in the university. That's why I've started a blog as a means to observe and list companies, both local and international, where I will apply in the future.


Also, based on the statistics of my blog, about 40% of Filipino students are interested in having their internship abroad. I believe that this gives leverage to a student when he graduates as it is an international exposure and wider network. Also, a visitor asked me why are internship programs for her course (Journalism) outside the country better than those of inside the country in terms of allowance. I did not have an answer for this as I myself is observing the trend of companies who give allowance to their interns. I think Filipino students nowadays are being practical in choosing companies to where they will apply as an intern. The popular criteria in choosing a company is the allowance and not the work-related exposure. Since most companies abroad are giving a higher allowance, and an international exposure, students like me tend to incline on those opportunities.


So to answer some of the questions, I think Salary (Allowance) is the main reason why the youth intends to work abroad. A high salary will greatly help the family of a student working abroad. Coupled with International Exposure, these benefits are simply irresistible in choosing where to live and work.


Hope I've shared an insight as I only have experience in Internships and not actual work yet.



Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by abdul fadil akbar at May 17. 2011

glad to be able to discuss this topics.

im fadil, physics student in UNSOED, Indonesia ..

I, myself, have a big will in working on my own countries .. call it cllasical nationalism to build my own country, Indonesia, and etc .. (im not that confident in english verbal communication, tough..)

but since i saw many disoriented-fresh-graduate-worker in my country whom their job is completely different with the subject which they consentrate upon in their years of study, in university esspecially (which, yes, simply will takeover some job opportunities for those who actually take the suitable subject in the very first place upon those fields, and which i consider as one of many things that cause a "nice" number of unemployee in my beloved-multi-cultural-country), im start thinking that it's necessary for me to consider the abroad-career .. (even tough we have our own labour migration phenomenon among each of 33 provinces, with different capability in absorbing employee each other. But since it happened integrally in each of province, let us generalize that my opinion about overtaken-job happened as a whole, and just focus on multirateral migrated-labour)

well, first question.

indeed it makes some sensible options in finding  better life expectation, better income (for sure, since we have a quite low national minimum wage standard here, about $100 per month, on average), and better prestige (i meant it) .. moreover, if we discuss about youth (let's call it Fresh-Graduate-Labour) which has a quiet low experience, its indeed very tempting (thanks for the minimum wage standard). middle-east countries (UAE, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia), neighbor countries (Malaysia,Philipines ("hi carlo :) "), singapore, australia), and some of american (US, Canada, Tsuriname) and european countries already become favourite destination for our youth labour nowadays. Quiet a lot huh? well, we are, and will always be a potential country in the term of providing migrated-worker, with that level of unemployee and level of jobfield, especially youth (about 60% from 9.5 million jobless might called youth)

And even my beloved government already settled a kinda regulation for those who will work abroad, including protection, and agreement between some countries.

and yes, again, labour migration is indeed provide sensible option for youth

second question

my little statement above, shows yes it is explicitly defined. Some of those are :

UU perlindungan TKI - Labour protection regulation (in order to protect labours from human trafficking)

UU penempatan TKI - Labour assignment regulation (in order to effectivy the placement of Labours in the right employer) - I don't know what "right" means here, to be honest -

UU keperawatan TKI - Labour Nursing regulation - or some kind of that, this one is "in planning" i guess - (in order to protect labour)

we even have our own board whom one of the pupose is to protect the abroad-labour (BNPPTKI - Badan Nasional Penempatan dan Perlindungan Tenaga Kerja Indonesia - Indonesian Labour Assignment and Protection Board, or so In english). This board even (i heard) provide some kinda card which consist of 60 personal data of labour who goes abroad which claimed to be one of another way to protect our labours.

oh yes, about the implementation. (Ehm, i try my best to be as neutral as possible here). These programs and regulation made by my government are a well-analyzed system (i believe). but as what other human did, some holes appear and need to be fixed. many cases that happened in past about the violance againts our labour. if we focussed on youth, yes most of them, are include in youth. the lack of controll from the government (esspecially the ambassador, which the closest link to govt for those labour) become the thing which people most take a blame to. thousands, if not hundreds, cases about this revealed in many destination countries. however, we can't ignore some succesfulness of my government in protecting  our youth labour by providing some of skill training before go abroad, as well.

so, law defined, the systems (in blue print models) are good, but the implementation? needs to be fixed, here and there ..

Third Question (already answer, came up with the first answer, i guess)

but if i have to arrange those points, here they are :
1. Prestige. Yes, i don't know why but it motivates youth A LOT in my country, to be a migrated=labour. Since some of jobfields are somehow being segregated in our people paradigm, just say scientist, engineer, and psychologist. If you are not an "Expert of the experts" one, you need to consider another career, i guess (i know it sounds hyperbolic, but, i have a full faith on it)

2. Money money money .. (keyword : Indonesia National minimum wages standard)

3. work environment .. some of my friend (who work already, of course) told me that they ussualy get a lot of pressure in their job. let me quote what my friend said just one night before i write this post : "we cant avoid pressure in most of jobs, that is one thing. but with this ammount of wage? that's another thing you know?". well, im not officially employed, and it describes the condition a lot for me ..

if there suppose to exist the 4th and 5th, it must be 'access for a better opportunities, whatever the job', and "internal family condition".

- - - -

(it's too long to be just a "post for discussion, i guess, but i hope i made the points, and i am looking forward to the discussion, directly or indirectly, i love discussion, by the way.)



Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 17. 2011

Congratulations Shaun for being the first to start our discussions.  You and I have come in the interaction on a very timely basis.  I just came back from Tonga as a key resource person in the Pacific Islands Labour Sending (PAILS) Country Forum organized by the World Bank.  Indeed, it is clear from the experience of the PAILS countries that access to labour market outside home is a welcome opportunity, particularly if aimed at an organized system like New Zealand's Recognized Seasonal Employment or RSE programme and that of Australia, engaging temporary employment of migrant farm workers.  I know that Vanuatu seems to lead in its experience in the programme.  Since some assessment is ongoing of your first wave of experience in these markets, it is useful to verify the age group of the migrants who left and whether or not there is interest to come back or aspire for a continuing temporary migrant employment.

The homogeneity of the overseas employment experience Vanuatu has had with New Zealand and Australia, in terms of occupational category and employment arrangement, is one reason that the whole system appears problem free.  The challenges come when the opportunities become more heterogeneous (more countries of destinations, more varied occupations, different employment settings, etc.) and  a sending country starts to believe that the only way to acquiring the gains from foreign exchange earnings and alleviating unemployment is through migrant employment.  The favorable impact that the first wave of experience may have on the youth may have the tendency to reinforce the aspiration for them to become farm workers in foreign lands and can lead to abandoning the acquisition of higher level education or skills.  It is therefore very important to engage an indepth, independent monitoring and evaluation of an experience like yours.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 17. 2011

Hello Carlo.  Your initiative to pursue a blog on a most relevant subject beyond being an academic requirement is very impressive.  The Philippines has a signficant youth unemployment contribution to the overall national unemployment level which stands at 7% per the last estimate.

Let's talk about internship.  The more priveleged and empowered youth like you can venture for a choice of companies hosting for internship, among those who top the industry list or even offer to pay internship allowance.  I do believe that companies should shell out to offer such allowance to interns as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility.

I however take concern when fresh graduates or graduating students tend to put premium on obtaining allowance than obtaining honest-to-goodness first crack on the job market and good learning platform.  I also like to cite that, per my previous experience as a former official of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, there are companies abroad who appear to offer an attractive internship arrangement only to end up with the interns realizing that they were drawn into psuedo-internships and have become cheaply paid migrant workers.  Thus if you or your respondents come across a situation when government authorities start to suspect something fishy about specific foreign internship, you should then be part of the probing yourself.  There have been a number of internet-based scams and illegal recruitment attempts in the guise of internship abroad.

But back to internship.  It is interesting that you highlighted this here.  My 19-year old daughter who is almost finished with her Mass Communication Course in the same school as yours, with good number of units in Marketing course, has chosen to utilize her barely 4-weeks of summer vacation from the trimestral routine in college to pursue her third internship at her own volition.  Like you, she has chosen to obtain sequential internships with two film production outfits, then a fashion/events organizer and now with a publication company.  She is very aware like you of the kind of technical content she aims out of an internship.  Her host companies are learning from her as she learns from them.  This is the kind of attitude that the youth can bank on.  My daughter is a product of what sometimes appears to be a haste in a trimestral college programme.  Realizing her youth, she believes it is the time of life for learning skills, both hard and soft, and cultivating networks.

Unfortunately, there are still many hosts to interns who care less about what work they pass to them, in many cases, totally irrelevant to their field of learning.

If you think you are 70% driven to subsequently obtain a job beyond the boundaries of home, which provides the career advancement and rewards you clearly see, then I guess it is an empowered existence.  You are likely to move out as a well-studied option.  You are indeed well-placed and I hope, that through your blog, you can help educate the youth and all other social networks along these issues.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 17. 2011

Hi there Fadil!  You have shared very interesting points.  Allow me to take your points on the "prestige" motivation for working abroad and the "fresh graduate labour" with low level of experience getting tempted to leave.

I do believe that indeed migration goals and overseas employment decisions among the youth are importantly driven by certain cultural perspectives.  One of this is the level of prestige being attached to being a SUCCESSFUL migrant.  Take note that I refer to it as SUCCESSFUL migrant workers.  Often, in many Asian settings, working abroad is seen as a risk of life-when a migrant is terminated from work and deported back home, it is often of no-prestige.  When a migrant is abused and cannot defend or assert his/her right, he/she is in a state of vulnerability or distress-and not necessarily-a prestigious situation.  It is therefore important to guide or offer some caution to the youth in making prestige-driven action or decision.

We need to define prestige.  Decent work is what I could offer-some work that is humane, remunerative, productive, not contrary to law, moral norms and standards and deliberately considerate of conserving the environment.  A work that offers one with earnings enabling the employee to pay out decent living costs and social security, one that respects the basic human rights of indviduals and collective groups of people, allows a grievance machinery to be in place, making the workplace a lifelong learning platform and mindful of the occupational safety and health of the workers/employees-these are what I view as indicators of a prestigious job.

Still, young people have varied options for the vastness of information accessed by them.  Working for a company, and for that matter, abroad may not necessarily be the best prestigious or decent option.  Young people are encouraged to imbibe their entrepreneurship potentials and explore the path to running small or medium enterprises.  They could seek guidance from government, advocacy groups, development organizations and many others.

Prestige motivation is often dangerous when prestige is merely equated to being abroad, earning dollars or Euros, seeing different places and working with foreigners.  With travel and communication technology of this generation, the youth is likely to face oppotunities of global dimensions and if handled well, they can be empowered global citizens.  That level of existence is not possible when the youth rushes to obtain overseas employment, with very little preparation, low level of skills and orientation.

The global labour market, especially that which caters to labour migrants, is emphasizing on skills levels, often obtained from well-experienced experts.  Working abroad is generally not for the inexperienced or for fresh graduates.

thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at May 18. 2011

Thanks for your reply Ricardo. Vanuatu has been participating in the RSE scheme with New Zealand since April 2007. Employers prefer if the same workers return every season, and this is happening with many workers now on their third, fourth or even fifth cycle. Some even consider it as a 'career'. They recieve training on different skills (pruning fruit trees, driving tractors) and many gain promotion from unskilled picking and packing to supervisory positions within the factory or more technical roles. Many Pacific island countries only have migration outlets for skilled workers, and this contributes to brain-drain problems. The RSE scheme and its equivalent PSWPS in Australia is an outlet for 'unskilled' workers with much lower levels of formal education, and this is particularly important for a country like Vanuatu. Close cooperation between the Depts of Labour in both sending and receiving countries is a big factor is dealing quickly with any issues of exploitation.  

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 18. 2011

Hi Shaun!  You have made an interesting point about the gains in having window for the relatively "low skilled" workers to get access to employment abroad.  Because New Zealand's RSE and Australia's PSWPS have very organized system of "multi-skilling" the farm workers, presumably under a more technologically advanced environment, the farm workers discover the value of their exposure to a different farming environment.  I recall that when the World Bank started a programme of assistance in this area sometime in 2007, they have anticipated that it would mean well enough to expose nationals of Pacific Island states into a different setting that can broaden their views about production, about markets, about quality, about efficiency, about technology, about competitiveness.  It is good to see that there is a great sense of careerism your farm workers see in this field of work-which essentially mean there is a growth path in this work setting.  I hope that young people realize this value as they tend to abandon the thought of living a life of work in the farms.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Matthieu Cognac at May 20. 2011

Dear members of the ApYouthNet: 

I am glad to see so many more of you joining the platform and participating to this fascinating discussion on Youth Migration.

In Asia Pacific, most young people migrate overseas as a last resort.  They have no other choice, or so it seems, to provide a better life to themselves and to their families.  This “better life” comes in the form of remittances mainly, but unfortunately not very much in the form of acquired skills and professional experience that can be beneficial to themselves, to their provinces and to their countries upon their return.

In the example of Shaun, when young Pacific migrant workers join the well-founded migration programmes in place with New Zealand and Australia where “multi-skilling” is promoted, they acquire a number of useful yet basic skills in the fruit picking business (and depending on the employer, additional training in computer literacy sometimes) and more cash in 6 months than they would have made in a few years in their own countries, but once back home they immediately – and naturally- prepare their return to the plantations.  The same situation applies to young Indonesian domestic workers who are sometimes –depending on their training center- trained on basic housekeeping skills and (if they are very lucky) in language skills and for whom “home” becomes a place they see intermittently between their contracts.

I would like to know if any participant to this discussion can share his/her experiences on the question of skills development for migrant workers.  What can be done to make the most of these migrants’ journeys overseas that can be applied upon their return?  Are there examples of migrant workers who, beyond their working hours, have the possibility of entering apprenticeship or internship programmes with the private sector, or, with government?  What are your thoughts regarding the diversification and the expansion of migrants’ skills once they are abroad; and what could be possible implications at a policy level?  Are there any practices or experiments you know of that have proven their ability to empower these young migrant workers and encourage further their productive return back home?

Looking forward to your feedback and knowledge sharing! -


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by abdul fadil akbar at May 21. 2011

hi Mr Carso-ric, its nice to see your post replied, you know? (for me at least)

well, i see your points, but let me clarify a little (no offense, for sure), that what i shared above is more likely a description upon my country condition than thoughts, i guess .. (well, okay, with some subjective statement as a minor additional)

"When a migrant is abused and cannot defend or assert his/her right, he/she is in a state of vulnerability or distress-" <-- this is the problem that still unable to be fully-controlled by my govt, in my opinion (sorry, govt). Well, THERE ARE some program/course in order to supply this unexperienced youth to go abroad, established by the govt of Indonesia, but then again, its quite hard (i imagine) to reach ALL of our areas to acieve a perfect goal of those training.

  • "Still, young people have varied options for the vastness of information accessed by them.  Working for a company, and for that matter, abroad may not necessarily be the best prestigious or decent option. "
  • "Prestige motivation is often dangerous when prestige is merely equated to being abroad, earning dollars or Euros, seeing different places and working with foreigners. "

Well, I obviously agree with those statements above, but in my country, (somehow) its an obvious that the first thing saw by the people is "where are you now", no matter how will you maintain your job. They (the people surround the youth, especially in remote areas, -and believe me, we have plenty of remote areas) even consider that "unexperience" thing as a plus point (it sounds like, "wow, with that weaknesses you can be hired abroad?! That's awesome!!") - that's from the environment point of view.

And for the youth we are talking about (by the way, im a youth, i guess), I can't deny that so many job vacancies wait for them to be proposed to. But again, the problem which i mentioned in my first post, the "disoriented-fresh-graduate-workers" point, makes some of them find that they themselves, are not well-respected, especially with the study they had for years (example, you dont need to be graduated from marketing subject to propose the marketing job, etc.). This phenomenon somehow marginalize some people that makes 'em think "Yes, i feel like im not well-apreciated here, then i must go somewhere elses where my result-of-study-for-years really needed.". There must be another opportunities for them (just as you said, "imbibe their entrepreneurship potentials and explore the path to running small or medium enterprises.", could be a premier option). But since these things happened very often, i put this "prestige" point as a number one point.

  • "The global labour market, especially that which caters to labour migrants, is emphasizing on skills levels, often obtained from well-experienced experts.  Working abroad is generally not for the inexperienced or for fresh graduates."

Well, this is where the dead end happened. I see the reality not always come as what we want it to be, isn't it? I do believe that Your statement above, which the youth of my country (by the way again, im a youth, i guess) have to cosider about. And not only the youth, but the govt of Indonesia actually have to put this urgency as their fisrt priority in the term of sending their youth abroad. And with the potential in the term of quantities, as you said " the youth is likely to face oppotunities of global dimensions and if handled well, they can be empowered global citizens.".

thats my description (and thoughts)



Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 23. 2011

Hi there Matthieu and Members of ApYouthNet:

The questions raised by Matthieu lead to important issues that must be addressed in different situations.  They remind me of a number of challenges arising from different  migration situations young people have been drawn into.

In the early 90's when South Korea introduced its Alien Industrial  Technology Training Programme or AITTP, a number of migrant young people in their early 20's came with trainee visas with the intention to acquire training-on-the-job in its industrial factories, under then Korean Federation of Small Business (KFSB).  Because of what became a widespread violation of the rules of the AITTP (when worker-trainees were treated more as workers, not as trainees) by many host small businesses, young Filipino factory worker-trainees began running around on an irregular status and hopping from one small company or backyard business to another, hoping to recover the pre-deployment costs they incurred through a well-paying employment abroad.

This experience describes a situation when young migrant worker-trainees would have derived good skills training from the factory floor of an export economy under a system officially defined by the host country.  The intention was to get these trainees rotated over a period of time in different dvisions of the production line and therefore would have meant the acquisition of knowledge and skills from the very heart of the production floor of an export economy.  If you think of numbers, the young factory worker-trainees would have contributed collective knowledge and technology capital to bring home along with their remittance savings if the implementation and monitoring of what could have been a good system had gone well.

From the pre-deployment side, young migrant workers need to briefed to become aware that the workplace is a learning pad.  Some of the young facotory workers who hopped from one company to another believed they learned different industries and work settings.  The Philippine Labor Attache subsequently then introduced a skills certification facility at the Philippine Embassy in order to assist these runaway, hopping, irregular workers in documenting their skills-based experience.

From this lesson, we see that host governments with worker-training schemes must ensure a good monitoring system so that host employer-trainors do not commit abuses, almost drawing trainees to forced or substandard labour conditions.  Governments of sending countries can introduce awareness-building modules that migrant employment is a technology and skills learning opportunity; a mechanism to certify the work experience of irregular workers can be offered to alleviate their situation.

Let's keep the thoughts coming.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Sophia Kagan at May 23. 2011

My name is Sophia Kagan and I’m a Programme Consultant with the ILO Country Office for Beijing and Mongolia. A large part of my work is focused on domestic (rural-urban) migration in China – a phenomenon which probably accounts for up to 170 million people in China (if not more). As this forum is focused on international migration, it might not immediately be clear why the Chinese experience of domestic migration could be relevant. For those not familiar with Chinese domestic policies, I’ll briefly explain - although migration from rural areas to cities is generally unrestricted, people from rural areas possess a different registration to urban residents which prevents them from accessing important social benefits available to their urban counterparts (such as housing, social security, children’s schooling and the like). This dual household registration system (the hukou) therefore creates significant barriers to free migration, which are somewhat parallel to those faced in international migration. Like young people in other developing countries in Asia, Chinese rural youth are less educated than those in the areas they seek to migrate to. The result is often that that they are often pushed into the informal sector, and/or into jobs that are dangerous and exploitative.


So now that I have explained the context, I’d like to address some of the questions that Ricardo and Mathieu have raised. The first is why young people migrate. Domestic migration in China is not a new phenomenon, however, migration trends have certainly been changing. Unlike the ‘previous’ generation of migrants (those migrating in the 80s and 90s) who migrated primarily to earn a living, today’s young migrants migrate to learn new skills and to start a career (according to a recent study around 42% said that this was an important factor). Of course, the wage differential between rural and urban areas is also a factor, as is surplus labour in rural areas, but a primary objective is the acquisition of skills and work experience.


Another interesting trend is that migrants are increasingly returning to their home province after life in the city and are using the skills they learnt to start their own business or to move into higher skilled jobs than those that did not migrate. Starting a business is a particularly popular option for returned migrants. A recent study of young migrants in a large city showed that at least a third intended to return home to start a business. This is a positive trend as entrepreneurship has been recognized as important for stimulating rural development. Although entrepreneurship is influenced by a number of factors (including an individual’s personality), the accumulated human, social and financial capital that migrants acquire through migration (for example, management skills, social network, start-up capital) greatly assists in starting up a business. Entrepreneurship is also assisted by government policies in a number of rural areas, which encourage migrant workers to return home to start a business (eg. by offering entrepreneurship training, microfinance, simplifying administrative formalities for starting a business, etc). The ILO has also provided technical assistance through the Start Your Business training.


So, in summary: governments in receiving areas (which receive migrants) and those in sending areas (home areas) can both play a part in helping migrants to make the most of their migration experience. In China, vocational schools often run subsidized training for migrants but the most popular training is that run by enterprises (as migrants value practical skills). Therefore, encouraging enterprises to provide on-the-job training or linking enterprises with vocational schools are positive steps (for example, some vocational schools have developed bilateral relationships with enterprises linking jobseekers in sending areas with employers in receiving areas). Governments in the sending areas can also do more to attract returning migrants by creating an environment conducive to business start up.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Bruno Maltoni at May 23. 2011

HI Ricardo and All, My name is Bruno and I am working with IOM Cambodia as labor migration focal point ; I also work closely with our regional office and the other IOM mission in the region on labor migration - related issues. 

Going back to your questions:

1) Labor migration represents a two fold ways for sending countries governments to deal with the entrance of young people in the labor market. First, obviously,  it allows to reduce unemployment and, through remittances, enhance the development of local communities but, secondly, labor migration represents a social safety valve, avoiding the presence of a large segment of the population which, being young and unemployed, could easily become a ticking bomb, threatening to destabilize existing governments.

2) in Cambodia and in the Greater Mekong sub-region (including Cambodia, Thailand, Laos PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar and Yunnan Province- China) the legal framework for labor migration is still weak, or better, in some countries there are efficient legislation but they are not implemented. The focus of sending countries is, in general, to send migrant workers abroad. Issues like protection and return and reintegration are seen as something to be dealt with  "later".  The problem is that when the system is profitable and operative, there is almost no interest in intervening, fearing to "put a clog into the machine".  This lack of medium-long term planning will affect the efficiency of the system in the long run.

Another issue is the general lack of transparency and high costs of the legal  recruitment system(due to lack of M&E of recruitment agencies) compared to informal recruiting channels as well as weak pre-departure training and widespread corruption.

3) Finally, Cambodia is quite young, as sending country, so the option of labour migration is still relatively new. The main legal migration flows are represented by migrant workers to Thailand to work in agriculture, construction and fishing sectors and domestic workers (overwhelmingly female) to Malaysia.  The numbers of young people deciding to migrate abroad are increasing but there is a palpable distrust of the legal recruitment system due to reports of abuses and mistreatments abroad. Overall, migration is considered an option but mainly because there is no local employment opportunities n country. If new jobs were created, even with lower salaries than abroad, probably many young people would choose to stay in Cambodia.


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by thetis at May 23. 2011

Hello Ric,

This is Thetis Mangahas, formerly the senior migration specialist and now the Deputy Regional Director of Policy and Programmes of the  ILO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. 

I have just come from New York after participating in the Informal Thematic Debate on Migration and Development, and also also attended the pre-debate symposium organized by the Global Migration Group and UNICEF on the overall theme of "Migration and Youth: Harnessing Opportunities for Development".  The discussions were rich and certainly thought provoking, covering a diverse range of topics from security, health as well as of course labour migration. 

I am sure that the website on this symposium would be carrying all the statements and presentations. Let me post the speech of Ms. Marta Santos Pais, UN Special Representative on Violence Against Children. 






Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 24. 2011

Hi Thetis!  Indeed the New York meeting  promises to share important perspectives on Migration and Development, exploring how to harness development opportunities as well for the youth.  As they seem to have been, these were "informal debates", the kind of dialogue most attuned to giving rise to new perspectives, provocative ideas, newly established facts and emerging trends & observations.  I hope the youth voice was represented, were they?

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at May 24. 2011
Hello Sophia. This is Shaun in Vanuatu. I very much enjoyed reading your post from China. Even though the numbers from China and the wider Asia region dwarf the migration statistics in the Pacific Islands, I think that some of the issues are very similar. Starting a business is also the number one option for Pacific migrants returning from the PSWPS and RSE labour migration programmes in Australia / New Zealand. Some have done very well, and several of these have been showcased by the World Bank and Dept. of Labour in New Zealand. But any success has been entirely due to the attitude, abilities and skills of the individuals. In Vanuatu and other sending countries, there is no Govt support in terms of policies or support programmes which you mentioned were also factors in China. The subject of post-labour re-integration services seems to be overlooked completely. Lots of time, money and energy goes into pre-departure training, so the migrants are 'work-ready' when they arrive, but there is nothing to support local economic development opportunities when they return. Its a shame I think, as Governments could and should be supporting opportunities to increase their national economic independence, rather than simply relying forever on migration outlets. What do you think? 


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at May 24. 2011
Hello Matthieu. This is Shaun in Vanuatu. You have raised an interesting and very important point re: skills development for migrant workers. This is a very relevant topic in the Pacific context. There are some good examples of this happening with New Zealand RSE workers from Vanuatu, but it seems entirely subjective as to whether their New Zealand employer encourages or discourages this. Some NZ employers (RSE) are very socially mined and really go out of their way to assist their Pacific Island labourers to develop and improve their skills. Others are not. I think it would be difficult to impose this as a condition for an employer, but I have been thinking that if a policy was developed whereby skills learned by migrants could be formally recognised by a vocational education framework in both countries, this might be a very positive factor in improving the future employability of labour migrants. Many Pacific Islanders in New Zealand and Australia learn quite demanding technical skills such as operating and maintaining heavy machinery, driving various vehicles etc. Others gain skills and experience in supervising other migrant workers, often from other countries and even from the Asian region. I think it would be very useful if there was a model whereby these important and useful skills could be formally recognised, both at home and in the overseas country, to help improve the employability of the migrant worker. What do you think? 


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 24. 2011

Hi Sophia.  I'm very glad you shared China's peculiar situation in terms of monitoring internal migration. In 2006, I had a chance to see for myself in Fujian province the situation you described , where a community of rural to urban migrants, including young children and young adults, occupied some temporary shelter while hoping for fair access to basic social services and employment.  In some other countries, such movement is seen by the youth as a stepping stone to greener pastures as urban setting appears, rightly or wrongly, to offer more opportunities to study, learn, work and options to live life.  The notion of being employed in big industries or companies is aimed at as the most decent form of earning a living, later drawing uncompetitive aspirants to settle with the informal sector.  Living and working in the urban sector remains to be associated with prestige, especially among the young generation who find that free access to technology, only available in the cities, is their way of life ahead.  Urban life is something which the youth perceives as an empowering situation, as it stirs a competitive challenge and provides vast options to access to products, services and way of earning and living.

Rural to urban migration is certainly likened to international migration in many ways.  The agricultural sector in many countries has complained of the declining interest of the youth to tend to the farms. There is also the observed tendency of institutions to nurture the thought that decent work is always employment-based, one that provides social security, regular wages, overtime, leave and other benefits.  Self-employment or livelihood within the informal sector are pictured too risky an option.  Thus, entrepreneurial empowerment of the youth is certainly an important mission to accomplish-how to turn around self-employment situations as a decent option.

There are indeed much more reasons why the youth entertain the option of migration abroad or to the cities.  While a large part of it is economically motivated-have a job-some young people join their parents abroad on a family petition programme, some are set to pursue higher studies and internships, others to provide expert services on frequent short-term basis, few others explore and compete with the job market.

There is much to learn from China on its interventions to promote entrepreneurship.  The bilateral agreement between vocational training institutions and private business is notable as it brings a practical facility for enterprises to ensure a high value human capital input, at the same time ensuring that the graduates of vocational training can be immediately subjected to proficiency testing, following standards prevailing in the enterprise setting.

However, enticing the migrants to return home to their community of origin or the youth to exhaust their options at home is much more than having a cooperative linkage between training and entrepreneurship.  The rural setting must emerge with an environment conducive for such entrepreneurship-driven return migration-when there is clear demand for services and goods, basic technological and investment infrastructure, farm to market roads, peace and order, political stability and a healthy sense of competition among business enterprises.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Matthieu Cognac at May 24. 2011

Hi Shaun and all:

Since this discussion about the effects of labour migration policies on Young People, we could reflect on what new policies could be put in place and what would be their effects.  Ricardo, yourself and others in the discussion have already touched on it and have also responded to my original query about experiences where the migrants workers’ journeys may be maximized so that their returns home have a better chance of becoming final and more productive to themselves and to their countries of origin.

Let’s start from the very safe assumption that migrant workers are needed by their receiving countries (that is stating the obvious). The reasons why they are needed, particularly in times of crisis, could themselves be the subject of a separate discussions.  Young people migrate for their benefit and for that of their receiving countries.  

Hence New Zealand and Australia which have developed agreements with Pacific countries, enjoy long term benefits from a constant inflow of highly motivated labour.  From the migrant workers perspective however, the benefits may be clear (financial mainly, and secondly international exposure) but they are not long term.

What would it take to implement new agreements based on the same platform as those established in New Zealand and in Australia, but where instead of full time labour in exchange for salary, the deal would be, for example, half time or ¾ time labour in exchange for salary AND formal studies or an apprenticeship in a sector or area deemed important by the sending country?


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Sheela Daskara at May 24. 2011

Hi Ric and everyone on the discussion,

I am Sheela Daskara, currently volunteering in Papua New Guinea. Originally I am from Sri Lanka. I am not in the category of youth as I am 50+. But I have some years of experience in working with youth and I am still passionate about youth development. Noticing the absence of any views from the South Asian region and by seeing what is happening around PNG (I am stationed in Lorengau in Manus Province, an island province), thought of sharing few of my thoughts.

I noticed few interesting points from the participants. One thing I want to clarify is when we talk about the labour migration, is it only the migration across the boarders or it includes the internal movements too (example rural to urban)?

If it includes the internal migration, then the developments in PNG are bit disturbing. PNG as you know just has started to develop the economy of the country. I can clearly see the transition from the barter system to the money economy in the remote province where I am living. Manus has around 208 small islands scattered in north of PNG. In those small islands there are no opportunities for the youth to plan their future. The vast amount of developments happening in the big cities and mining areas attract these youth in abundance. This internal migration has created lot of social issues in the country. The migrating youth in cities resort to violence to achieve their life goals.  And also it has become a big factor in spreading the HIV/AIDS virus between cities and the rural villages. I have no insight into how across the border labour migration happen in PNG. What I see is that it is very minimal especially for the higher studies there is few migrations to Australia.

If I talk about my country, Sri Lanka, we have all sorts of labour migration into almost all the countries in the world. The years long civil war we had in the country contributed to large scale youth migration into western countries partly as an escape from the situation and partly as a means to serve their cause as the rebels. The increase of asylum seekers is one of the major problems both to the receiving and the originating country. If you talk about the prestige, I doubt the ability of these youth to gain any prestige in the process.

The other category of migrators is the unskilled workers going to Middle Eastern countries in search of their fortunes. In this category, the male youth are somewhat fortunate as they are able to gain some skills that they can use to the upliftment of their carrier prospects. But the female domestic workers face huge amount of challenges and sometimes lose their life. Though the Sri Lankan government has some mechanisms to tackle these problems, the non-corporation of the receiving countries is a problem to achieve their safety. It leads to some social problems too, which I think is too complicated to discuss in a forum like this.

Then also I wonder if the big economies talk about the “open Economy” with open markets, where they reap enormous profits from the developing world, why not the open employment policy where the youth from the developing world could benefit as a compensation for the exploitation of their economies?

These are few of my thoughts. Sorry if this is too long for the discussion.    

Sheela Daskara 

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 24. 2011

Yes, Matthieu.  There is a lot of stirring needed to approach youth mobility with responsive policy, both from the sending and receiving countries.  The sample issue you are citing is a very practical one.  Young people, at their age, must be bridged into the world of work abroad through a transition scheme.  A contract of engagement on work cum study arrangement must be discussed bilaterally, for the purpose of adopting some guiding standards and looking into how immigration policies or the types of visas offered under such category can recognize such mutually developed standards.  This is critically needed as a caution against any form of labour abuse.

While the idea sounds simpler than it really is, the terms of engagement can be a messy subject of negotiations-where wage, insurance, medical health, age and other standards will have to be defined to the last letter.  Contractual rights and obligations of the host employer, trainor, school and the migrant worker/trainee/student are expected to be ruled by the laws of the host country but where the country of origin will likely impose pre-qualification systems and standards of recruitment.  The industry and the type of skills involved, the accreditation of courses, schools and host companies can likewise be relevant issues for one or both sides.

Migration, in general, has to be dealt with, with a stronger youth lens as there are different types of youth movement beyond labour migration.  Children migrating abroad to join their parents under a family reunification programme can be best welcomed with comprehensive post-arrival orientation programmes.  Young scholars must be offered with schemes for immediate internship and possible employment in the country where the knowledge was acquired.  Returning youth migrants will be keen to utilize intenet based facilities to learn about entrepreneurial, advance studies or employment options.  Diaspora youth will be keen to avail of active programmes linking them to their roots, tapping their creative talents or promoting exchange studies or fellowship programmes.  Young people from abroad must see some option of working in public service, often trapped with age-old ideas, ways and bureaucrats.  Governments must start looking how to cooperate to run programmes under these terms.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 24. 2011

Dear Sheela:

It's great to hear from that side of Asia.  Sri Lanka has remarkably advanced its migration governance over the last ten years I would say.  The challenges are always there and can be getting complicated....and as you said, without the cooperation of host countries' governments, one can only do much on the pre-deployment phase.

Labour migratiion, while habitually seen in an international movement perspective, can refer to rural to urban migration.  I do believe that much of migration of people is centered on some economic motivation, especially for jobs.  As discussed previously, there are displacement effects of urban-oriented movement.  The challenge is how to reverse the movement, urban to rural.  One thing that is missed in migration governance of orign countries   is the setting up of mechanisms for organized, productive return.  Migration has been largely individualistic in motivation, with such purpose as to have a job, earn dollars to send home to family, build a house, establish a small livelihood to send children left behind to school and send the sick for medical rehabilitation.  There is little attention generated towards introducing instruments to build capital collectively from remittances from the city or abroad, to infuse the learnings  to communities of origin, or to contribute savings for special community based projects.

Efforts to mainstream migration issues in the school curriculum, particularly those which are of interest to values education as well as adult orientation programmes may be one important step in handling the cultural distortions, tensions, fears and challenges arising out of migration decisions of individuals.  Mass media-based information campaign or orientation can be explored to counter tensions.  Tensions excacerbate  out of perceptions of discrimination, undue competition, struggle for share of limited resources, lack of foreword and other information and absence of consultative process or social dialogue.

Policy deliberations on free economy do often find the issue of human resource mobility as very politically sensitive.  It is often not treated in the context of a one-on-one exchange as in the first place, the relationship is not something of a value-correspondence.  Many sectors do not want to reduce labour into a mere resource and will rightfully assert the issue of human rights  Labour and Migration are largely governed on a human rights perspective.



Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by M Reveillex E. Lim at May 24. 2011

Going Abroad for Money May No Longer Hold True 

Hi everyone! I'm Rev, a 24-year old Filipino working for my country's National Youth Commission. I would also like all of you to know that I'm a proud student of society - specifically I studied sociology in college and I am now furthering my study into a masters degree. Perhaps society is too interesting for me and I'm quite sure it certainly is for a lot of you. 

I would like to specifically respond to question number three pertaining to the prevailing migration intentions of young Filipinos who aspire to work abroad. And my answer is something I have surprisingly discovered while conducting my undergraduate thesis entitled, "OFW Bloggers:Deeper Truths on the OFW Experience". For that particular research, I studied blog writings from young OFW's (Overseas Filipino Workers) with regards to their migration intentions. Yes, people may lie to a researcher if they know too well that their answers are being studied. So, I conducted an different approach of studying their blog writings which are modern equivalents of diaries or journals - wellsprings of uninhibited truths from the very voices of young OFW's themselves. 

You know what I found out? 

Among others, there is a possibility that a young OFW may go abroad not only to earn money. The economic motivation to go abroad remains undeniably preponderant among young OFW's. But my findings told a glaring deeper truth, that such economic motivation however preponderant is not always applicable to all. I found out that some of my respondents actually went abroad for the following reasons: 

1. To find themselves. That going abroad is a long challenging journey. A journey from which one can discover his or her fullest potential. A journey from which one can discover what truly matters to him or her. 

2. To help other people. Two out of my five respondents actually gave-up their comforts in the Philippines and went to hostile and poor countries for noble causes - namely environmental protection and social development of their host countries. 

Hence, I would like everyone to reconsider, for I myself cannot generalize on the basis of my qualitative research, that the migration intentions among the Filipino youth may already be changing - or to put it more accurately - may already be multiplying. 

Social intentions to migrations may after all are becoming equally preponderant in our societies today. And it is a challenge to all of us to implement policies and programs for OFW's and other migrant workers based on this premise. I guess what I am only trying to say is this:

If we want to help young migrants, if we want to make them feel happy and safe in their host countries, then we must first ask them why they decided to work abroad in the first place. Programs and policies may only be effective if created by listening from their voices first . 


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Shaun Kennedy at May 25. 2011

Hello Sheela. Its very good to read a perspective on labour migration from another Pacific Island country. I am based in Vanuatu, so we can share some Melanesian context. You may know that PNG has only very recently become an active participant in the Govt of Australia scheme 'Pacific Seasonal Workers Pilot Scheme'. Nine or ten workers from PNG have just left on a temporary work visa to farms on Queensland, I think. This is a tiny number is  a country of approx 6 million, but at least its a start, and it could lead on to better things in the near future. Labour migration is a major issue in the Pacific region, with many thousands of people being supported by seafarers remittances. Fiji has approx 3,000 of its citizens working for the British Army and based in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. However, there are very few international migration opportunities for the Melanesian countries (talking about PNG, Solomons, Vanuatu). Only RSE and PSWPS with New Zealand and Australia, to my knowledge. A hot topic in this region is the trade related talked ongoing towards formal negotiations called 'PACER-plus'. Labour mobility is one of the items on this trade-related agenda. Picking up on Matthieu's comment earlier re: having a higher level of sophistication in migration policies and programmes (inclusion of skills / education as part of labour contract) this would be excellent, but the issue for some countries in the Pacific region is first to get our foot in the door to foreign labour markets, and then develop better policies to benefit migrant workers. This is particularly an issue for young people in the Pacific, many of whom have low levels of education and / or technical vocational skills. 


Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Nolivienne C. Ermitano at May 25. 2011


Many thanks for the opportunity that you gave me to participate in this online forum, which, I consider, a platform for the cross-fertilization of minds.  I have read many of the replies to your initial posting, and I should like to share my succinct views on the specific matters of concern that you have raised. 

With respect to the first query, I am tempted to ask:  Shouldn't the question be: "Why (not how) do you think labor migration makes a sensible option for the youth?"  Recasting it like so, I think, addresses more squarely why the unemployed youth would be psychologically conditioned to see labor migration (understood as contract migration in the context of overseas employment) as a "sensible" option:  It would be, for them, an experiment in economic expediency especially in view of their presumably disadvantaged position in the local labor market.  Put bluntly, they have nothing much to lose and much to gain in engaging in labor migration even when in doing so, they would be advertently placing themselves in extremely vulnerable occupational categories and thereby, setting themselves up for exploitation and persecution and the like by opportunistic or unscrupulous employers in the host countries.  With labor migration providing the only avenue for economic survival (I am not even referring to it as a springboard for economic advancement), it can but be seen as "sensible" -- and by implication, "justifiable" and perhaps, even "acceptable".         

With respect to the second query, I know for a fact that large-scale labor migration has become, in the Philippines, a permanent fixture of the labor policy thereof ever since its inception as a humble stop-gap measure against a depression four decades ago.  In fact, a national overseas employment program complete with a policy regime and institutional infrastructure has evolved to take full advantage of the political and the financial benefits thereof.  There is, however, a policy inconsistency -- or more accurately, a policy schizophrenia -- bedevilling this program:  Is the Philippines engaged in labor export or not?  Official pronouncements proclaim that it is NOT -- that it is only managing it -- but then, all evidence suggest the contrary.  Understandably, in view of the social costs of labor migration, the Philippines, if it is to preserve its good reputation as a labor-sending country in the community of nations especially since it happens to be a signatory to the ICRMW (ie the UN convention on migrant workers), can't be seen as treating its people as articles of commerce; likewise, in view of the adverse implications of an admission that labor export is really actively encouraged, the Philippines, if it is to parry successfully the trenchant criticisms of militant homegrown detractors, can't be seen as being deficient in governance skills insofar as the management of the domestic economy is concerned.       

Perhaps, in answering the third query, it would be helpful to ascertain first the psychographic, demographic, and geographic characteristics of the unemployed youth and correlate them to the kind of overseas jobs made available to them, the kind of treatment that they get from overseas employers and from their host countries, the level and the quality of protection or assistance that their government gives them on site, and their prospects for skills upgrading in aid of personal advancement, among other considerations.  As it is, determining the characteristics of the unemployed youth in relation to considerations that undoubtedly figure prominently in their decisions to find work in foreign shores will engender a fuller understanding of their consciousness first, as individuals first and second, as workers.  After all, their consciousness will undoubtedly explain a great deal about their appreciation of the push and pull factors involved and their valuation of the costs and benefits...  I must admit that this proposal constitutes an oblique response to the third query, but simply teasing out the criteria that they adopt in making their decisions, in itself, will, in my view, add little to what is already, generally, known about them in the context of their situation -- that their contemplation of, or engagement in, labor migration is largely induced by necessity, not by choice; that being people with diminished expectations, they are resigned to experience labor migration more of an embittering experience rather than an enriching one. 

For whatever my posting is worth, I hope to have enlivened somewhat the ongoing discussion in this online forum.  Any reaction from you and my fellow participants will be most welcome.     


Nolivienne C. Ermitaño





Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Min Ji Kim at May 25. 2011

Hi everyone,


My name is Min Ji, and I'm an associate expert attached to the ILO MIGRANT team at headquarters in Geneva and I've been occupying this post since March 2011. Hello, Thetis! I hope to meet you in person soon ^^. It was good to hear about your experience and insight on the Global Migration Group Symposium. I myself helped in drafting the background paper for which the ILO contributed.


Ricardo, I hope you forgive me, because I am going to answer to and elaborate on Rev's reply rather than your questions, although I hope what I say will also address your very adept questions as well.


Rev, I appreciate your contribution and am singling it out here because implicit in it is the question "Do current paradigms of labour migration even apply to real-life patterns of youth mobility? Hence, are current labour migration schemes and policies even adequate in addressing the migration dynamics of the youth?" And the answer, in my opinion, is that we just don't have enough information at this point to know. One of the problems with assesssing and researching youth migration that is brougt up again and again is the knowledge gap and lack of sufficiently descriptive statistics in this area. And one of the dangers I perceive in eagerly opening up policy debate on this issue without sufficient data and input from the popularion concerned is that we risk giving rise to a discourse whereby "such and such a labour migration scheme is available and by age criteria open to young migrant workers, so young migrant workers should utilise those schemes and be pushed to utilise those schemes." Yet, there is perhaps no greater logical disconnect than that between what is and what ought to be.


Currently I am supporting my colleagues in the Youth, Employment and Migration (YEM) project, wherein we collect and analyse data on youth migration from 14 different countries; the ILO is in charge of 9 of these. We have already started receiving the initial findings from a couple of them (one of them being the Philippines, by the way). The findings from Serbia are particularly interesting. Serbia, like many of the Asian countries cited in the course of this discussion, is also a country with a high youth population but poor labour market infrastructure to absorb them. What we are finding in Serbia from sample surveying and interviewing is that a large percentage of youth express a desire to migrate (I believe it was over 60%, if my memory serves) but very few (I believe it was around 5%) actually act on it. This initial report has not gone to the extent of ascertaining why this is, but one can surmise from what is written that entry restrictions in desired countries of destination and the reluctance of many countries of destination to facilitate job security and premanent stay in that country as big factors. In this sense, it might not even be so much LABOUR MIGRATION that affect the youth who wish to migrate so much as IMMIGRATION...the variety and expiry lengths of visas...the benefits, including the authorisation to work, attached to a destination country's student visa programme...the amount of time allowed for foreign students to find a job in the country of study and the mechanisms in place to facilitate this transition, etc.


Also, I wonder if we're not looking at this question through the too-rigid and well-established paradigm of "the migrant benefitting her country of origin by migrating and working abroad" in light of fascinating new migration phenomena involving the youth arising in Asia. For example, in my country of South Korea, it has always been fashionable for parents to push their children to extremes to learn English. In the last 10 years, more and more Korean parents have been sending their children, often as young as primary-school age, abroad to English-speaking countries. Of course, the first choices are countries such as the USA, Canada, and the UK. However, lately, other destinations within the Asia-Pacific region, such as Australia and New Zealand but also Malaysia and the Philippines are becoming extremely popular. Now, of course, these children-to-teens are not migrating for labour, but they certainly create labour at the place they arrive. Albeit anecdotally, one already hears of the impact this kind of migration is having on communities in the Philippines where new schools and language institutes are being built and hiring local teachers and staff who otherwise might have had extreme difficulty finding a job as a teacher given the surplus of Education-degree graduates in the Philippines. In this model, it is youth on both ends (the youth from the country of origin migrating as students and youth in the country of destination who are teachers) that are impacted, yet it didn't involve a labour migration scheme per se.


And then there is the more and more significant phenomenon of marriage migration in Asia, which often involves young women from developing Asian countries migrating to more developed countries either in the region or beyond. So far, the discourse and policy dialogue on this migration has been one of needing to protect these women from trafficking and victimisation, and I am not saying this isn't necessary--there are plenty of cases where marriage migrants are defrauded into trafficking or slavery-like situations that require serious international attention--but if we consider than, at least in the case of Korea, the majority of these women particpate in the labour market (over 60%, which is already higher than the participate average of Korean women at 58%) and remit some of their earnings back home whilst raising children and trying to integrate into Korean society...perhaps we should also raise the question "How do we not only protect them but also facilitate their rights and entry into the local labour market?" This might not be so much a question of formulating a new migration-employment scheme so much as opening up access to already-existing national schemes on youth employment to young migrants who find themselves on the territory. The best option may not even involve tweaking or fomulating LABOUR MIGRATION schemes, but rather YOUTH EMPLOYMENT strategies in countries of destination, or finding a way to connect the two together somehow.


Once again, the data is not sufficient and is only starting to trickle in, but from what has come to light so far, I believe it might be time to seriously consider revisiting the assumption that the only difference between young migrants and adult migrants is age. Youth in itself is a time of not-yet-defined and not knowing yet where one belongs, so perhaps we should be prepared to find that our current, largely age blind and rather static models of labour migration do not adequately address the migration dynamics and aspirations of the youth.


Min Ji KIM

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 25. 2011

Hi Min Ji Kim.  This discussion forum welcomes very much views that are triggered by the exchanges.  Your thoughts are extremely valid.  I interpret the situation too in the sense that the youth lens in migration governance is hardly there yet, because indeed data are only trickling down.   There could be much more variations and motivations of youth movement -other than for work, study, marriage or family reunion.  Interestingly, when we had a "YouThink" dialogue in Manila, the old-fashioned notions of migration were not exactly the way the Filipino youth see them.  To some, particularly of the indigenous youth driven out of home by conflicts or "infrastructure development projects",  internal displacement is their migration concern.  

I should encourage everyone to keep the interaction circular as well like Kim did.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 25. 2011

Well said Noli.  I should say that you probably are a genuine voice of the empowered youth (basing on the age-definition of youth in the Philippines), who see the opportunity to risk into what is perceived as high opportunity option under a "little option scenario".  One thing about the young is they do crave to try the untried...and that journey can lend the much needed survival or life skills at the right time of life.  I have heard "if that guy can do it, why can't I?", "life is competition, survival of the fittest", "I am a global citizen born of migrant parents at the age of cyberspace communication", "working abroad will be my independence day", "I want to escape to a world of rewarding challenge" and so forth..... sounds of young voices believing they have capacity to risk, compete and prove.

The mouth and legislative work on Philippine migration policy as related to programme of action have always been controversial.  I have observed different regimes come through the inconsistency in interpreting the laws, highlighting policy thrusts and prioritizing programmes.  But one thing I acknowledge very well-that these changes or seeming ambivalence have been drawn by the fact that political and executive leaders are moved by political agenda, present day realities, the market, the demands of their constituencies and management style.  Certainly, laws get overshadowed by these compelling factors and public managers cannot be ineffective in service and be trapped by age-old laws. That's why legislation should be more efficient.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 25. 2011

Hello Rev!  Very interesting indeed!  As I previously replied to another, you are correct in the having to understand the perspectives and motivations of the youth before any policy and programme response on migration can be embarked.   We look forward that the National Plan of Action for the Youth, being facilitated by the MDG Youth Employment Project will observe this reminder from you. Youth and migration is relatively a new thematic nexus and this forum, I guess, is achieving to unearth fresh dimensions of the relationship.

I am increasingly encountering situations when the youth are moved by some vocation, beyond job or career, and that money or compensation is seen as mere sustenance for the further pursuit of such mission.  In many trainings I have conducted among young would-be migrants and children left behind by migrants, the thought of leaving for abroad is to them sheerly an adventure of life, without any goal compulsion.

As a researcher, I believe you have introduced an innovative approach to gather virgin information to prove some hypothesis.

Re: Start here: Effects of labour migration policies on young people

Posted by Ricardo R. Casco at May 31. 2011

            APYouthNet has just concluded a two-week long interactive discussion which I have been privileged to moderate on the theme of youth and migration, with experts and stakeholders voicing out their perspectives and ideas as well as sharing information with representations from Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Pacific island states.  Importantly, we have heard from the youth who ventured to share that migration can mean to them with different reasons or motivations-such as being an alternative to a better paying job, a means to advance career or acquire skills through internships and further studies, a reunion with migrant parents, a consequence of inter-racial marriage,  an adventure of life or a path to the pursuit of a mission.

 The following are among the lessons learned from the online discussion:


  1. Migration for employment or international internship is considered a sensible option among the youth who are affected by the tight pressure of the job market.  For those who obtained lesser level of education at home, migration is seen as an opportunity for alternative, supplemental or advanced learning.

  2. Governments of both origin and destination countries must work bilaterally on mutually acceptable schemes in support of the unique purpose why youth migrate to ensure that the youth genuinely gain from the migration experience, especially of decent employment, improved level of technical and life skills, career advancement and self assessment, as has been accounted for in the
  3. Pacific island states’ experience of seasonal farm worker employment in New Zealand and Australia. 

  4. A parallel analysis of rural to urban internal migration such as in China can be useful to observe patterns of behavior which drive the youth to leave home and address the consequent challenges to authorities in the place of destination in being able to provide essential social services and equal access to opportunities;

  5. While the youth can be vulnerable in taking quick decisions to migrate as an instinctive response to boost self-esteem or achieve a perceived state of prestige as articulated by an Indonesian discussion participant, their technological empowerment can lead them to youth-friendly modalities of data access, feedback and communication which, in turn, can lend as a gentle guide for more informed decisions, as exhibited by a Filipino blogger who is presently providing links on international internship opportunities for the youth.

There is a call for fair deal for international interns or on-the-job trainees where companies can offer to provide a good programme and remuneration package as part of their corporate social responsibility, while state authorities of source and origin countries must set up mechanisms to monitor that migrant interns or OJT’s are not subjected to labour abuse. 

Closer linkages between and among stakeholders can harness the potentials of the youth as human capital and agents of technology and skills transfer.  An observation of China’s close programme linkage between vocational institutions and the employer sector was shared, including efforts to promote entrepreneurship as a motivation for return migration among the youth.  It is however critical that efforts are made to provide the basic social infrastructure so that entrepreneurship back home will be attractive to young migrant returnees.

While there are many migration related laws and regulations, the governance framework within which to implement these effectively remains vague in a number of origin countries, with a citation of Cambodia and the  Mekong Region.  The youth lens in migration governance in general remains weak.  There is a tendency to emphasize attention only on the sending out of migrants and less on protection and return migration assistance.

The discussion was cautioned of the need to collect more data and build a body of evidence from which conclusive observations and consequent policy and programme responses can be based.  There is need to promulgate new policies for youth migration in order to maximize the benefits from different types of youth movement such as among labour migrants, self-practicing professionals, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, rural to urban migrants, foreign students or interns, youth reuniting with their family or relatives abroad,  as well as spouses in inter-racial marriages.

Allow me to say that the time is ripe for discourses on youth and migration with the likelihood of heightening interest of young people on trying life of study, work or living in a foreign land not only due to burgeoning youth unemployment at home but for manyu other varied reasons.  There is much need to sharpen the youth lens in migration governance, including the aspect on how the youth left behind by migrant parents are affected.  The data gaps will emerge and once recognized, concerned State authorities will inevitably need to infuse reforms to make their data capture system more age-sensitive and proactively move their research agenda to accommodate more attention on youth and migration issues.

We could expect that new modes of policy and operational cooperation and coordination among sectors, stakeholders and support institutions would become compelling.  There is much wisdom to loosen up representation from the youth sector and cultivate more vehicles through which they can be heard from their most untainted perspectives.  The youth needs to be sensitized into analyzing the forces that lure them to migration.  Champions for the youth cause must be identified.

National policies, development agenda and service programmes for the youth cannot miss out global issues such as migration.  Technical assistance and development programmes offered by international bodies, the United Nations and donor organizations will need to be encouraged to come in from small pilot projects that could progressively build into larger medium term programmes, best managed in the orchestrated fashion  that UN Country Teams in a number of countries has ventured in the MDG-F  Joint Programme on Youth Employment and Migration.

The APYouthNet must continue beyond being an experimental facility in stirring discussions, debates and good practices sharing.

Let me sincerely thank the ILO for involving the IOM through my person in facilitating this most interesting discussion.  I also thank all those who contributed their wisdom and knowledge  into the exchange.




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