From the Executive Director - April 2014

4/2/2014
"In the Know" Updates

​​April 2014

Minding ​​the Skills Gap - and More


You have no doubt heard and read about the growing disconnect between the skills and knowledge workers have and those employers need. Most likely, you have read about it as a problem in the U.S. workforce, perhaps in relation to the lack of employees with critical STEM – science, technology, engineering, math – training or those who generally lack the skills required by 21st century jobs.

What you may not have seen much about is how the so-called “skills gap” is a challenge affecting the rest of the world; how that, in turn, impacts employers with global operations; and how the Council for Global Immigration is at the forefront of these discussions.

In February, I spent two days in meetings with OECD governments discussing how migration must be part of the strategy to close the growing divide between employer expectations and workforce realities. As in the United States, policymakers around the world are struggling to balance the clear need to welcome highly educated talent with negative public perceptions of immigration in general. Data I presented from our Employer Immigration Metrics survey showing that the average employer spent over $500,000 managing migration in 2012 helped illustrate that this is not about cheap labor.

You may recall that last year, I wrote about my participation in the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD), formed in 2007 to allow governments of UN member nations to discuss and develop strategies for tackling migration challenges. A special feature of the GFMD is that it includes formal consultative processes with “civil society,” including employers, labor and humanitarian organizations.

What these governments – and you and your organizations – know is that addressing skills shortages is really all about managing workforces and talent, and migration is critical to that task. Migration can either help solve or help exacerbate the skills gap your organizations may be experiencing in your U.S. and worldwide workforces, and that is why the Council got involved in the GFMD – to be at the forefront of these conversations to ensure migration is part of the solution to the skills gap.

The bottom line on migration policy is that employers need predictability and certainty, just as they do in other parts of their operation, like energy costs or taxes. That is why we are working through the GFMD to streamline and harmonize migration policies around the world, so that your companies have a consistent set of policies and standards for managing your workforce talent needs.

This was a point I stressed at a dinner at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in Geneva last month, where I had traveled to participate in the final preparatory meeting for the 2014 GFMD. Over the past six months, a number of Council members have participated in roundtable discussions with governments at the GFMD. Their stories describing difficulties moving talent in a timely and predictable manner, and the amount of resources devoted to immigration compliance, brought home to governments the need for action. I will continue to make sure the voice of employers is heard as the leadership of the GMFD shifts from Sweden to Turkey next year.

These are just a few ways that we are working to ensure the Council continues to keep our members ahead of the curve on global migration. But my conversations on the skills gap and migration policy have not all been overseas. I recently participated in a SHRM Foundation roundtable discussion on the future of work and the workforce. We spent a lot of time discussing demographic and economic trends that will make migration policy even more critical to the workforce of the future.

Also here on the homefront, we are drawing on the experience of the Council’s Global Immigration Specialist, Andrew Yewdell. We were able to create this position after our strategic affiliation with SHRM, and he is helping us better represent your interests with international governmental organizations and provide you with more information on global policy trends and practices. Andrew has been reaching out to Council members to gain insight into how we can better serve you, and he has also been tracking international migration policy trends. Expect to hear more from him soon.

In another effort to better serve you, we have launched our 2014 Employer Immigration Metrics survey. We are excited to bring this valuable resource to you again this year, and we are expanding it to even better understand your global migration challenges. The results will help us keep you ahead of the curve. I am asking each of you to take the time to complete the survey by April 18 – we need to know what matters to you if we are going to continue to extend our reach and influence on the migration policies that matter.

​Finally, I wanted to let you know about a recent article from Bloomberg BNA’s “Workplace Immigration Report,” which ran as the lead story in the March 31 edition. I was able to sit down and discuss the Council’s perspective on U.S. immigration reform at length, and the resulting article captures much of what we are advocating on your behalf on Capitol Hill.

Best regards,

Lynn

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