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 13 – 18 of 18

Strengthened and Informative Migration Systems (SIMS)

16.08.2018 - 14.12.2023

Labour migration remains a key driver for development in Bangladesh. The present project strengthens the socio-economic development of the country by providing better life perspectives for migrant workers. It enables migrant workers and their families to take informed decisions towards a productive and safe migration experience with reduced social costs. This supports implementation of the parliamentary mandate to better link Swiss migration policy with international cooperation.


Safer Migration (SaMI III) project

16.07.2018 - 15.07.2022

Labour migration is positively affecting Nepal’s socio-economic development with remittances significantly reducing poverty. Nevertheless, the rights of migrants are often violated. The Safer Migration project will empower migrants and their families and strengthen government protection mechanisms. The project will benefit about 600’000 men and women in three states of Nepal and enable about 60 local governments to run foreign employment services.



Migration Network Activities

01.03.2016 - 31.03.2021

The SDC Migration network provides the platform to share knowledge and experience on programmes, efforts and global developments in the field of migration and development at operational and policy dialogue level. It constitutes the framework to support activities contributing to the different network components, hence contributing to increase sharing of knowledge and enhanced connections among stakeholders.


PROMISE: Poverty Reduction through Safe Migration, Skills Development and Enhanced Job Placement

01.11.2015 - 31.08.2021

Migration to Thailand has increasingly become a poverty reduction strategy for marginalized households. It gives a higher income to the individual and, through remittances supports their community of origin. However migrants are often exposed to precarious labour conditions. PROMISE promotes skills development and safe migration and improves thus the livelihoods of the migrants in Thailand and their communities of origin in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.


Nepal Vocational Qualifications System (NVQS)

01.02.2014 - 31.12.2020

In Nepal, 500’000 youths enter the labour market yearly but remain un- or underemployed. The project will support the Ministry of Education to establish a National Vocational Qualifications Framework and a corresponding NVQ Authority to manage it. Learners and workers, especially from disadvantaged groups, will benefit from an improved vocational training qualification and skills certification system, thus increasing their chances for sustainable and decent employment.

Object 13 – 18 of 18