Welcoming address of ILO Director, Dagmar Walter, at the Technical Consultation on Measuring the Recruitment Costs in Labour Migration

By Ms Dagmar Walter, ILO DWT/CO-ND at Technical Consultation on Measuring the Recruitment Costs in Labour Migration, New Delhi – 25 April 2018.

Statement | New Delhi, Inida | 25 April 2018
  • Mr Debi Mondal, DG NSSO India,
  • Mr Supriyo Samaddar, Under Secretary, MOLE
  • Mr NishiKant Singh, Under Secretary, India Centre for Migration, Ministry of External Affairs,
  • Ms Rupa Chanda, Director UN ESCAP, New Delhi;
  • Distinguished delegates from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka;
  • Participants from Research Institutions and Academia in Asia,
  • IOM and World Bank representatives,
  • Dear resource persons and ILO officials;
  • Ladies and Gentlemen;
A very warm welcome to all of you!!

My name is Dagmar Walter, I am the new Director for the ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team for South Asia and Country Office for India. It is my pleasure to be here with you this morning to engage in the discussions around the measurement of recruitment costs in labour migration.

We often talk about the triple-win of labour migration – and the benefits it can bring to migrant workers, to employers and to governments. But too often these positive outcomes are diminished by abuses in recruitment – in the countries of origin and destination.
  1. Migrant workers are often deceived and coerced into exploitative conditions.
  2. These abuses also affect employers – who receive workers who have been misled, and there is a mismatch in expectations. Migrants continue to be selected based on their willingness to pay high recruitment fees, rather than on their competencies to perform the job.
  3. Abuses in recruitment have a direct impact on orderly migration. Workers leave their employers or overstay their visas because they need to earn more to pay back the debts they have taken on.
Recruitment agencies play an important function in facilitating labour migration - but billions of dollars are channeled into a rent-seeking recruitment industry, and those billions are much needed by the migrants and their family members.

The ILO’s Fair Recruitment Initiative aims to:
  • protect the rights of workers from abusive and fraudulent practices during the recruitment and placement process; to
  • reduce the cost of labour migration;
  • and to enhance development outcomes for migrant workers and their families, as well as for countries of origin and destination.
The ILO and our constituents’ work in this area, is grounded on a strengthened knowledge base – to which this week’s meetings make an important contribution. In particular, this research work can inform the formulation of laws and regulation on fair recruitment, alongside international labour standards and good practices that are emerging. In addition to state regulation, we also see the private sector increasingly taking responsibility for how workers are hired, and with greater demand from employers and buyers higher up in the supply chain, we are seeing a number of ethical recruitment agencies sprouting up in several countries.

The centrality of recruitment to the effective governance of labour migration is reflected in the Global Compact on Migration, currently being negotiated in New York, as well as the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Compact is to be guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and advocates for accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies. Moreover, recruitment features prominently in the current draft of the Compact, and there is explicit reference to the ILO General Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment.

Under the SDG number 10 on ‘Reduced Inequalities’, Target 10.7 is to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration. One of the two indicators to measure progress toward this target is what we are discussing today, namely: Recruitment cost borne by the employee as a proportion of yearly income earned in country of destination.

Right now it is labeled a Tier 3 indicator, meaning that no standardised methodology to measure it has been adopted. The ILO and World Bank have been charged by the UN Member States to develop the required methodology for the indicator, for endorsement by national statistical offices.

Fortunately, we have a platform to build on. Since 2014, the ILO and World Bank have been collaborating on conducting small-sample surveys on the migration costs borne by migrants in different migration corridors. A third round of these surveys will be carried out this year, in four countries in Asia: Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia – two countries of origin and two countries of destination. These surveys will inform policy discourse and action on specific components of the recruitment cost that can be brought down, but they will also be used to test aspects of the proposed SDG 10.7.1 methodology.

So today’s consultation is an opportunity to generate ideas and collect inputs from you all on some of the approaches being considered for SDG monitoring, and then on Thursday and Friday, many of you will be staying on for a workshop on data collection for the recruitment cost surveys, using the Computer Assisted Personal Interview, or CAPI technology. This will help to ensure that the recruitment cost surveys in those four countries are standardized to the extent possible, and be comparable.
We have rich experience in the room, from government, research institutions and independent experts, and international organizations. I wish you a productive set of meetings, and am confident that the outcomes will be significant for the national, regional and global agenda on safe, regular and orderly labour migration.

Thank you for your kind attention.