Labour Markets and Labour Migration in the MENA region Regional Consultative Meeting on International Migration in the Arab Region (in preparation for the UN High-Level Dialogue) Cairo-EGYPT, 4-5 June 2013 Azfar Khan Senior Migration Specialist ILO Regional Office for Arab States Beirut, Lebanon [email protected]
Labour migration in the MENA region Factors influencing migration: • Small population base (especially in GCC countries) • Low labour force participation of nationals (especially of women) • Low literacy and educational levels • Disinclination of nationals to work in the private sector • High degree of non-labour income for nationals • Growth of the ‘kafala’; an economic activity in itself
Labour markets in the MENA region Nuanced affirmation – – GCC countries and Libya – Countries of the Mashriq –(~Morocco?)
– North African countries, Yemen and Syria
Labour markets in the MENA region GCC countries and Libya heavily reliant on migrant workers because of their demographic profiles and labour market segmentation Mashriq countries also have a significant presence of migrant workers Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen and Syria are essentially source countries of migrant workers
Labour markets and economic growth in the MENA region – the context Did the ‘economic crisis’ negatively impact employment? Was there a slow-down in economic growth? What are the determining factors?
The nature of the GCC economies Economies not very diverse and rely a lot on oil revenues Excessive reliance on migrant workers High unemployment of nationals
The impact of the ‘economic crisis’ on the GCC countries • Not very significant impact • Revenue stream did not diminish • Experts linked it to a ‘predicted’ crash in the oil prices • Oil prices quite robust • Employment levels actually went up-demand for workers actually increased
The nature of Mashreq (Jordan and Lebanon) economies • Economic activity driven by high liquidity
• High unemployment and out-migration of skills • In-migration of low and semi-skilled workers from Arab and Asian countries
Determining factors of future labour migration to the Mashreq countries Two paramount questions:
• Can the ‘high liquidity’ situation be sustained? • For how long will the ‘speculative bubble’ hold?
Employment of nationals • High unemployment noted all across the region • Youth unemployment particularly high • Drive to nationalise the labour force in GCC • Difficulties in doing so
Future prospects of labour markets in the MENA region • Migration to the Gulf and Mashriq countries is not likely to decelerate – skills differentiated • The demand for domestic workers has not dimmed. Neither the demand for construction or service sector workers • Slow growth and low absorption of labour surplus will continue to generate migratory pressures