Labour Migration

Quick Facts

  • 105 million
    Number of persons working in a country other than their country of birth
  • USD 440 billion
    Total earnings of migrant workers in 2011
  • USD 350 billion
    Remittances sent to developing countries in 2011
  • 70 
    Number of countries benefiting from IOM labour migration programmes

International labour migration is defined as the movement of people from one country to another for the purpose of employment.  Today, an estimated 105 million persons are working in a country other than their country of birth.   Labour mobility has become a key feature of globalization and the global economy with migrant workers earning US$ 440 billion in 2011, and the World Bank estimating that more than $350 billion of that total was transferred to developing countries in the form of remittances.  However, despite the efforts made to ensure the protection of migrant workers, many remain vulnerable and assume significant risks during the migration process.

When properly managed, labour migration has far-reaching potential for the migrants, their communities, the countries of origin and destination, and for employers. While job creation in the home country is the preferred option, demographic, social and economic factors are increasingly the drivers of migration. As a result, a growing number of both sending and receiving countries view international labour migration as an integral part of their national development and employment strategies. On one hand, countries of origin benefit from labour migration because it relieves unemployment pressures and contributes to development through remittances, knowledge transfer, and the creation of business and trade networks. On the other hand, for destination countries facing labour shortages, orderly and well-managed labour migration can lighten labour scarcity and facilitate mobility.

Labour Migration in Sri Lanka

The Labour Migration division provides programme development and technical support on policy and strategy development, to the government and work focuses on programmes and interventions concerning the effective protection and support services to migrant workers and helping optimize the developmental benefits of labour migration.

The objectives of the labour migration activities are to foster the synergies between labour migration and development, to promote legal channels for labour mobility as an alternative to irregular migration, facilitate effective policies and programmes that support developmental impact, and to provide effective protection and support services to migrant workers and their families.

These objectives are sought through policy advice and capacity building on labour migration management, pre-departure training, information dissemination and awareness-raising, recruitment facilitation, and inter-government dialogue and cooperation.

Supporting Labour Migration through Regional Consultative Processes

Aware of the importance to enhance dialogue and cooperation amongst labour sending and receiving countries, bilaterally, regionally and internationally, IOM will support the current Nepal chairmanship of the Colombo Process (CP), vested with the leadership of the Minister of Labour and Employment as its Chair-in-Office. Colombo Process Member Countries are constantly faced with the complex responsibility of ensuring that their labour migration systems benefit labour migrants and their families while contributing to long-term economic growth and development in both source and destination countries. The strategic vision and related thematic areas pursued by the CP  pave the road for building on the many accomplishments achieved under the previous chairmanships and for further engaging on issues of mutual interest. IOM Sri Lanka through the Colombo Process Technical Support Unit stands ready to extend all of the required technical and thematic support to the Nepali Chairmanship, and looks forward to supporting continued dialogues and partnerships fostered by the CP towards the propitious theme of “International Labour Migration for Prosperity: Adding Value by Working Together”.