PARTNERS: THE HAGUE INSTITUTE FOR GLOBAL JUSTICE
DATE: MAY 2017
In 2015, according to the United Nations, 244 million people worldwide were international migrants, of which 65.3 million were forcefully displaced. Ultimately, it is in cities where migrants settle, make their daily lives, and interact with the local population.
Cities are faced with the challenge of effectively integrating migrants including access to the labor market, while migrants need to gain employment in order to contribute to the local economy and actively participate in their new community.
Capitalizing on the skills migrants have to offer has the potential to reduce the cost that migrants could have on the welfare system and other indirect costs due to unemployment. This poses a great opportunity for businesses, which are increasingly struggling to fill skills gaps from within their local labor markets.
However, migration is still a topic that generates confusion and mixed perceptions amongst businesses, and a shift in mentality is needed to capitalize on the full potential of migration. Migrants and refugees still constitute largely untapped pools of talent. Local governments are in the best position to incentivize private sector engagement via programs to better leverage migrants for positive outcomes by working in partnership and addressing issues that are relevant to business’ bottom line, such as return on investment.
This paper reviews initiatives aimed at enhancing business-city partnerships for successful economic integration of migrants and draws lessons from them. The labor market participation of ethnic minorities facilitates their social acceptance, and prevents further social exclusion by enabling social contact between migrants and the host community, and allowing them to develop their talents. The paper also suggests ways to maximize the positive effects of labor integration of migrants through the formation of partnerships between cities and businesses.