Labour migration

India’s growing talent pool can meet EU labour market shortages

Dagmar Walter, ILO Director, addresses the ILO event on ‘business case for ethical recruitment’.

Statement | New Delhi, India | 29 May 2018
We are here today to discuss a very pertinent issue — which is to build the business case for fair and ethical recruitment in the context of migration from India to the European Union. We will be exploring the various policy and regulatory challenges faced by recruitment agencies and the European employers. We will also exchange global good practices on ethical recruitment and share information on opportunities in the EU labour market.

There is a strong business case for favouring migration between India and the EU. As you are aware there is a skills shortage in the EU labour market and India offers a growing talent-pool of highly-skilled workers. Eurostat 2017 data says that Europe is facing a severe demographic decline with the working age population expected to reduce by 10% or 1.9 million people by 2020.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has emerged as one of the top five occupations in the EU with a mismatch between labour demand and supply. Every two in five companies in the EU is claiming to have difficulties in recruiting people with the required skills (CEDEFOP 2017). India, on the other hand, maintains the highest rank in terms of global sourcing country for IT talent.

Recruitment agencies play a critical role in successfully addressing this market need. They are bridging the asymmetry of information and connecting employers in countries of destination with willing and able professionals in countries of origin.

In 1997 already, ILO’s constituents — employers, workers, and government — adopted Convention No. 181 on Private Employment Agencies as a step towards recognizing the constructive role of private placement agencies in contributing to the ever-growing demands of a dynamic labour market. This Convention has been ratified by 32 countries, mostly European. It has also served as a reference point for many other countries drafting their own legislation in this area. While India is yet to ratify Convention 181, it has been taking progressive steps in this regard.

The issue of fair and ethical recruitment is very topical both in the region and globally. In 2014, the ILO launched a multi-stakeholder ‘Fair Recruitment Initiative’ with the objective of enhancing global knowledge and legislation on fair recruitment, promoting fair business practices and protecting workers. Subsequently, in 2016, the ILO general principles and operational guidelines on fair recruitment were adopted.

Recruitment is central to effective governance of labour migration. This is reflected in the Global Compact on Migration, currently being negotiated by the international community. Recruitment also features prominently in the Sustainable Development Goals, especially Target 10.7, proposed indicator 10.7.1: which reads: Recruitment cost borne by employee as a proportion of yearly income earned in country of destination. A number of global forums and partnerships have convened to advance the agenda of fair and ethical recruitment practices, including the Global Forum on Migration and Development, World Employment Confederation, the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, and the Responsible Business Alliance.

The ILO has been engaging with the overseas recruitment industry in India since 2015, starting with a focus towards the Gulf countries. A series of consultative processes, facilitated by the ILO, with the recruitment agencies successfully culminated in the formation of two federations, the Federation of Overseas Recruiters of India (FORAI) and the Federation of Indian Manpower Export Promotion Councils and Associations (FIMCA). These bodies have been incorporated as members of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) that lead the negotiations with the Government of India.

The ILO technical cooperation on labour migration in India is now expanding to the EU labour market. This is being done under the EU India Cooperation and Dialogue on Migration and Mobility project. The project aims to contribute towards better governance of migration and mobility between the EU and India by providing technical support to the EU-India High Level Dialogue on Migration and Mobility. The support includes facilitation of a series of dialogues with a diverse range of stakeholders, covering topics on fostering regular migration, reducing irregular migration, and strengthening the positive development impacts of migration. The ILO therefore views engaging in dialogue with the agencies that place workers in Europe as critical. It helps us understand the current challenges in recruitment, and the opportunities in the EU labour market, and how global good practices can be best-shared so that it can contribute to a triple-win.

I am happy to see key stakeholders from the overseas recruitment sector participate in this forum. We are pleased to facilitate this dialogue and offer you a platform for meaningful exchange of some innovative practices regarding recruitment for right talent in the India-EU labour migration corridor.

On behalf of the ILO, thank you for being here. And, I wish you a productive consultation.