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Tunisia: Higher international mobility of labor and jobs in the coming decades

A Global market for jobs and workers is developing rapidly: The internationalization of the production of goods and services, reduced communications and transportation costs, and global demographic developments will lead to higher international mobility of labor and jobs in the coming decades, said a World Bank Report on “ Shaping the Future: A Long-Term Perspective of People and Job Mobility for the Middle East and North Africa” presented during a seminar held in Tunis.
 Over the long run, income growth and the prosperity of nations will depend on the availability of a sufficiently large workforce with a range of skill levels and the ability to adapt to the changing needs of society.

Demographic differences across region will increase global pressures for labor and job mobility: In the course of the next 40 to 45 years, the world population will go through significant shifts, which will affect growth and welfare prospects in all regions. The world population will grow by some 2.6 billion people to reach 9 billion by 2050. At the same time, declining fertility and increasing longevity are contributing to an aging population worldwide. As a result, the population over 40 years old stands to increase by as much as 2 billion people—or by 75 percent—and the share of people 65 and older will more than double. These prospects could pose serious risks to economic growth, fiscal balances, and the welfare of the elderly.

Labor shortages are likely to occur in occupations across the skills spectrum: Labor migration involves and will continue to involve different skill levels. Labor shortages in some areas, such as health care professionals at various skill levels, are already significant. Short- and long-term projections both point to the fact that labor shortages will grow in many rich countries, and that these labor shortages will occur across the skills spectrum, with significant demand for mid level skills (such as nurses, intermediate business services) or even relatively low-level skills (retail sales persons, waiters, and so on). Migrants with vocational, secondary levels of education and linguistic proficiency conceivably could fill these gaps.

Countries are increasingly aware of the need to attract talent at the high-skilled level, but policies and instruments to promote mid level skills are not as high on the policy agenda. Many European countries now focus on how to adapt migration policies to catch up with traditional immigration countries, like Australia, Canada, and the United States, to attract a more skilled workforce. However, there is a need for Cinitiatives to explore how to prepare for, organize the mobility and provide the necessary training for mid-level kills given the current high demand on such skills and the likelihood that these will constitute the bulk of future labor shortages if no action is taken.
Leila Zlaoui, the main author of the report, said that”both industrial and developing countries stand to benefit from better-organized mobility schemes, more opportunities for labor migration, and better matching between skill demand and skill supply. This is very much the case for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Europe, where important migration links exist. Currently, migration is the main form of global integration for MENA countries, and is making an important contribution to household incomes and national economies in the region. Yet, the scope for improving migration outcomes is significant. And attracting outsourced jobs is becoming an important feature of employment creation in many MENA countries”.

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