Turning labor mobility into a win-win deal
Many of us move in circles where we take our mobility across borders for granted. The pull of a better education or a higher paying job has taken so many of us far away from home. Beyond our personal experiences, at the World Bank we’ve made the case on the benefits of greater mobility and we’re walking the talk. Using economist’s jargon of “improving resource allocation,” “matching supply and demand,” or “responding to economic and demographic forces,” we want to demonstrate that mobility can be a potent instrument to unlock prosperity, alleviate unemployment, and boost investment in building the human capital.
But despite our pro-mobility position, the reality is that it remains a luxury enjoyed by a few and a pipedream for most- some of whom undertake dangerous and risky journeys in its pursuit. The need for bilateral cooperation to create win-win, safe, and legal pathways for mobility has never been greater.
World Bank bridging access to overseas employment opportunities
Conceived a few years ago in 2015 by some out-of-the-box thinkers from Germany, Morocco, the World Bank, and the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), the project started as a wild dream. It soon was to become a reality when demand started to meet supply.
The project started when the WB and the CMI engaged in a discussion to facilitate the creation of a bilateral arrangement between the governments of Morocco and Germany. The deal was to support Morocco’s employment agency, ANAPEC to perform labor market intermediation by screening, and training Moroccan youth with potential to apply for employment in Germany. In parallel, discussions were ongoing to engage German counterparts, namely the Federal Employment Agency and GIZ (German Aid Agency), to identify employers who faced labor shortages. Tourism was picked as one of the sectors with the highest labor potential. And this is where the pot found its lid.
A pool of 100 young Moroccans looking to work in the tourism sector was identified and could qualify for an overseas job. The deal included a basic pre-departure training for selected candidates, including language classes, before they were placed into apprenticeship at a suitable location in Germany and could begin to build their skills.
Whether the experiment succeeded or failed, the purpose was that important lessons would be drawn on both sides from this experience. The interesting part about this experience is that reticence from both sides on the feasibility of the “match” soon vanished with the excitement of trying something totally innovative and addressing a need from both ends.
A year on, I’m delighted to report that the story has been a good one– the 100 Moroccan candidates have fared well on the job, continue to attend apprenticeship training, and have become valued employees in the 48 establishments which employ them. As news of this small program spreads, new employers, towns, and other states in Germany look interested in engaging with Morocco to form partnerships which tie training to employment and international mobility together. A small step like this has had big transformational changes in the minds of stakeholders all around: ANAPEC now understands better what it takes to access an international labor market for its job seekers. In fact, it is taking a much active role in intermediating and providing training for the rapidly growing labor markets overseas, whether in the sectors of tourism, IT, or healthcare.
German stakeholders have now understood better the need to streamline the bureaucratic and regulatory procedures to enable smoother recruitment from Morocco and to support meaningful integration for new entrants into the German labor market and society at large.
But most importantly there is now growing trust. Employers are starting to trust that institutions in Morocco are working to equip their workforce with the right soft and technical skills to be considered for a stable job in an international labor market. And most valuable of all is the trust that young Moroccan workers are building in themselves. Their journey and experience has given them confidence that they are indeed part of a global work force. They have passed the litmus test of employability in a competitive sector within aa truly international labor force drawn from many countries. They have, in fact, become a highly employable and valued work force.
Our next steps now are to help scale up the experience and expand it to other sectors and countries and share the benefits more widely by bringing training providers, diaspora, and other stakeholders into the fold even more.