Geographical Labour Mobility

Labour Markets Are Expanding to Global Workspaces, Here Are Some Economic and Institutional Imperatives for Africa

A welcome discussion has emerged around ameliorating labour supply and demand mismatches across the globe by expanding labour markets. South Africa and Nigeria are among several African countries with a structural unemployment problem, characterised by labour market inefficiencies, such as slow pace of job growth and low productivity. It has long been suggested that structural unemployment problems could be eased through reducing barriers to geographical labour mobility, so combined with labour shortages at industrialised countries, the idea of expanding labour markets is mature. Yet, the returns to such labour mobility are not evenly distributed; increased labour mobility could redistribute skilled workers away from African to more productive industrial countries. Formal labour migration agreements should position themselves to address such human capital redistribution accordingly maximising the returns to contractual parties. Destination countries can mitigate the impacts of redistribution of skilled workers by committing to skill formation at source and to migrant selection practices that are inclusive of mid and lower-level skill sets. Countries of origin can improve their labour market conditions, to create, and retain skilled workers, including through adjustments of professional regulatory practices.