Economic migration – establishing decent working conditions

Every economy needs mobile workers. Globalisation has strengthened such developments, which can be seen all around the world. The SDC is committed to ensuring that economic migration takes place within a sound legal and social framework.

SDC focus

The SDC’s primary objective is to improve the protection of migrant workers. It also aims to maximise the benefits of economic migration for migrant workers and their dependants, thereby also contributing to the development of their countries of origin.

The SDC focuses on the following five aspects:

  • improved access to justice and other services, both for migrants and for their dependants in their countries of origin
  • preparation for temporary migration, as well as assistance with reintegration when migrants return home
  • Better protection for labour migrants in recruitment processes (mediation and hiring)
  • compliance with standards governing working conditions under the Decent Work Agenda and support for governments when they come to implement the relevant legal framework
  • stronger political dialogue between countries of origin and destination

The SDC is especially active in regions where labour migration is a significant economic and social factor, such as South and Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

Background

People generally leave their homeland in search of a secure income and in the hope of achieving greater prosperity and security. Almost half of such economic migrants are women. Every year, more than 1 million workers from Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka migrate to the Gulf States and the Middle East. Employment agencies play an important role in this process. Very few of those migrants have a clear and realistic idea of the living and working conditions that await them in their host country. This information is often unavailable or is deliberately withheld. This can result in migrants being exploited or finding themselves enslaved in inhuman conditions.

Opportunities

Economic migration contributes to the economic and social development of both countries of origin and destination. The work done by migrants benefits not only the workers themselves, their families and their countries of origin, but also their countries of destination. Migration leads to the transfer of money, goods, knowledge and ideas. Often, though, migration is not a one-way journey: migrants often return home, and the knowledge, capital and international experience that they take with them supports the development of their countries of origin.

Current challenges

In many host countries, migrants are among the most vulnerable sections of society. They often have no rights and have to endure poor working and living conditions. Although international standards for the protection of migrant workers exist, they are often ignored. In many cases, debts owed to recruitment agencies are an additional burden. Indeed, the brokerage fee for a job abroad can be many times the migrant’s monthly wage.

Global economic imbalances often result in large numbers of qualified workers leaving developing countries and never returning. This "brain drain" can hinder the development of the migrants’ homeland, a problem that is particularly acute in the health sector.

However, the international mobility of workers and job-seekers can be a development opportunity for all concerned. To make the most of this potential, there is a need for closer international cooperation, regulatory measures in both countries of origin and destination, and a willingness to grant migrants their rights.

Documents

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 23

Fair and ethical recruitment of migrant workers

01.02.2022 - 31.12.2024

Approximately 105 million people are currently working outside their country of origin. Many of these migrant workers have profited from international labour recruitment intermediaries. Millions, however, have become victims of abusive and exploitative practices by unethical recruiters. Working together with different actors, SDC will support initiatives to ensure fair and ethical recruitment. Migrants and their families will be better protected and thereby better enabled to contribute to the development of their countries of origin and destination.


International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS)

01.12.2021 - 30.11.2024

When recruitment is fair and ethical, it benefits migrant workers, employers, as well as governments in countries of origin and destination. Switzerland partners with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the consolidation of the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), a global initiative to promote ethical international recruitments that engages different actors. Engaging with the private sector will be at the center of this phase. 


PROMISE - Poverty Reduction Through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement in Cambodia, Laos PDR, Myanmar and Thailand

01.09.2021 - 31.08.2025

Labour migration is a key poverty reduction and economic development strategy for jobless people in the Mekong region. The last phase of this regional programme will focus on the sustainability and upscaling of support to migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to access skills development and decent employment in Thailand and when returning home. Switzerland addresses their needs with a regional approach together with the International Organisation for Migration, governments and the private sector by strengthening regional and national policies and systems.


Reintegration of Returnee Migrant Workers Project

01.01.2021 - 31.05.2027

The project will contribute to ensure migrant workers benefit fully from their migration experience by supporting the reintegration of returnee migrant workers in Nepal. It will work with the Nepali Government to provide reintegration services and support policy development to anchor them in the federal structure. Switzerland has a key interest that the potential of migration for development is fully used and is well positioned to engage on the topic, given its track record in migration in Nepal. 


Facilitating Safe and Skilled Migration on the Central Asia - Russian Federation/Kazakhstan Corridor

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2025

Labor migration to Russia and Kazakhstan constitute a lifeline for millions of families in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, but its poor regulation negatively affects its development benefits. The program aims at enhancing labor mobility governance along the Central Asia-Russia/Kazakhstan migration corridor. By facilitating pre-departure orientation and skills-matching interventions for prospective migrants, it will foster migrant workers’ protection and enhancethe livelihood perspectives for the poorest in Central Asia. The program builds on Swiss migration expertise and contributes to the strategic link between international cooperation and migration policy.


Decent work, protection and well-being for migrant workers and their families in Sri Lanka

01.09.2020 - 31.08.2024

The programme aims to maximise the benefits of migration for sustainable development in Sri Lanka. It will support government institutions and other actors in implementing policies related to fair and ethical recruitment, skills development and provide reintegration support for returning migrants in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. A special focus is placed on elevating migrant workers’ voices in advocacy. The intervention creates entry points to engage with the newly elected government in Sri Lanka. 


Mitigating the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on migrants and their families from Central Asia .

01.08.2020 - 31.05.2021

Migrants from CA and their families are severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Hundreds of thousands stranded in the RF without income or social protection. Their families are affected too, as they depend on remittances, which do not flow anymore due to the crisis. Contributing to the IOM response plan, Switzerland ensures that migration data gaps are addressed, that the most vulnerable migrants receive assistance, and that migrants’ families get increased access to digital remittances. 


COVID-19 - Prevention and Recovery in the Mekong Region

01.08.2020 - 30.09.2022

Vulnerable groups in Laos and Cambodia suffered disproportionally from the Covid-19 socio-economic crisis affecting their income, as well as access to public services and employment. Swiss support will combine institutional strengthening of local actors and provision of public services, skills development, access to credit and support to returning migrants. The long-term experience of Switzerland and trusted relationships with governments add value to the intervention


Reintegration of Migrant Workers in Bangladesh

01.05.2020 - 30.11.2025

Reintegration of returnee women and men migrant workers into their communities through self or wage-employment and customised support services is a priority in the current pandemic context. The project will take advantage of the favourable relationship Switzerland enjoys as a longstanding partner of the Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment to provide technical assistance for establishing and improving services for returnee migrant workers, building upon country systems.


Support to Relief and Recovery from COVID-19

01.05.2020 - 01.09.2025

The proposed interventions support the Government of Nepal in its efforts to contain the further spread of COVID-19 and to address the socio-economic consequences, in particular for disadvantaged groups. As a trusted partner and with its longstanding experience in development cooperation, Switzerland is well positioned to effectively provide relief and recovery during, and in the aftermath of the pandemic, in close collaboration with local and international stakeholders.


Global solutions for migration related challenges

01.01.2020 - 31.03.2023

The challenges and opportunities linked to migration require a coordinated response from the international community that goes beyond individual country measures. For this reason, Switzerland works towards an effective global migration governance that enables cooperation among states and other stakeholders (private sector, civil society). Switzerland also supports evidence-based policy making and the development of global solutions to contemporary migration challenges that benefit migrants and their families, as well as countries of origin and destination.


Migration de travail et développement économique en Afrique de l'Ouest

01.01.2020 - 31.05.2025

La migration en Afrique de l’Ouest est en grande partie intra régionale, et se fait principalement à des fins de travail. Grâce à sa longue expérience en migration et développement (M&D), la Suisse vise à faciliter la contribution des migrant-e-s au développement socio-économique de la sous-région par la voie d'initiatives qui ont trait à leur protection, leur meilleure inclusion dans les zones urbaines, ainsi qu’à leur plus grande implication dans les trajectoires de développement des pays concernés. 

Object 1 – 12 of 23