2nd Mar 2024

EU proposes online platform to match legal migrants with jobs

  • Margaritis Schinas, vice-president of EU Commission: 'Europe is engaged in a global race for talent'. Although unemployment in the EU is at a record low of six percent (Photo: EC - Audiovisual Service)
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On Wednesday (15 November), the EU Commission proposed a regulation to create an online matching platform — the EU Talent Pool — to improve the recruitment of workers from countries outside the EU, and fill gaps in European labour markets.

The tool is aimed at workers who are not already in the EU and is intended not only to address acute labour shortages, but to keep the EU competitive on the international stage — and to disincentivise illegal migration.

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"Europe is engaged in a global race for talent the same way that we are fighting a global race for raw materials or energy against very powerful competitors," Margaritis Schinas, the vice-president of the EU commission, said at the press conference on Wednesday.

The EU Talent Pool, together with the legal framework for migration that the EU executive hopes to have in place by the end of this year or early next, will be the way to compete with the economies of Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and Canada.

The platform allows employers and third-country nationals to match according to skills, but especially in areas where the EU suffers from labour shortages.

"Our drive to fill labour market gaps has to start at home (...), but labour migration can be an important complementary means of filling persistent gaps," Schinas said.

Although unemployment in the EU is at a record low of six percent, three percent of jobs are still unfilled.

EU commissioner for home affairs Ylva Johansson mentioned some of the sectors with the most pressing shortages: construction and healthcare, but also care for the elderly, transport, or the jobs that will emerge from the green and digital transitions that Europe is now undertaking.

Already, 13 percent of the EU's key workers come from outside the EU, but cooperation with partner countries is still fragmented and has more to offer, the commissioners said.

The EU is therefore turning to legal migration as a response to these challenges, which will increase as the working-age population shrinks in the coming years due to demographic challenges (from 265 million in 2022 to 258 million in 2030.)

Yet there is no intention to change the legal basis for these workers to cross European borders to reside and work.

"This talent pool is not about challenging the national competence on deciding quotas or numbers for labour migration," Johansson told reporters. "It is about facilitating the recruitment of the rights skills as easily and swift as possible".

The platform will only help to bring the two sides together and avoid so-called 'brain waste'.

According to Eurostat, almost four-out-of-ten third-country workers were overqualified for their job in 2022.

The platform will also be voluntary. It will be up to each country to decide whether it wants to be part of it or not, and which occupations it wants to add or remove from the list of 42 occupations that are currently in short supply across the EU.

The list includes software developers, accountants, waiters, environmental engineers, electrical mechanics, cleaners, and bus and tram drivers.

The commission would not give a figure for the number of workers it expects to attract, but Schinas stressed that "as many as possible" would be needed to fill vacancies.

As for how these new flows will affect countries that choose not to participate, both commissioners were clear that residence permits will be issued by national authorities and that the single permit is still under review.

This means that the legal basis for moving from one country to another will not change. But that in any case, the attractiveness of the system will make it a tool to be used "rather than ignored", and that these are legal, documented migrants.

The design of the platform will be similar to the European job mobility portal EURES, which only works for intra-European mobility and has more than four million job advertisements.

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