Since September 2017, the European Commission has been encouraging the use of new approaches to broaden labour migration to the EU. In response to this call, several pilots for skill mobility partnerships are being tested by partner countries with, for example, different target groups (e.g. recent graduates or young professionals), types of contract (e.g. internship or work) or duration.
The IOM skills mobility partnership between Belgium and Tunisia highlights the importance of multidimensional cooperation between different stakeholders from both countries (e.g. immigration office, public employment services, employers’ associations) throughout the implementation of the project (e.g. in assessing labour market needs, streamlining procedures, selecting candidates). Throughout this pilot project, IOM improved its understanding of the private sector’s interest in international hiring and the difficulties faced by companies with this issue, while companies became acquainted with different aspects of international labour migration such as ethical recruitment practices and skills recognition.
All participants found a job after their internship in Belgium, the great majority back in Tunisia and some in a subsidiary of the Belgian host company. The project therefore achieved its main objectives of i) providing concrete opportunities for skills mobility to third country nationals while ensuring skills return, ii) meeting the labour market needs in terms of skills, and iii) supporting the private sector’s interest in international hiring. Foreign investment on the part of some of the Belgian host companies was but one positive spillover from this project.