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East African workshop on business perspectives on skills mobility

The need for social dialogue is now greater more than ever at all levels. Social dialogue has proven to be a paramount tool especially when it comes to matters policy making.

On the 22nd – 23rd February 2022, the International Organization for Employers (IOE) in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) hosted an East African Workshop that sought to gain the business perspectives on skills mobility from employers. The workshop took place in an interactive hybrid format with at the following objectives:

  1.  To strengthen the employers’ position and role in migration policy shaping
  2.  To identify concrete obstacles within national legislations or regional frameworks which hinder employers to have access to skills from abroad
  3. To identify solutions to be implemented in cooperation with employers and governments to ease the movement of workers where/when needed in the labour market

Representatives from Business Africa - Employers’ Confederation (BUSINESSAfrica) and Employer and Business Member Organizations (EBMOs) across East Africa from the following countries were represented all through the two-day workshop, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The goal being to share the outcomes in an African Employers' Declaration, which will be submitted at the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) in May 2022.

The day’s discussions revolved around policy, legal framework and institutional consultation mechanisms. Employers had conversations amongst themselves and raised issues while proposing solutions surrounding the mentioned areas. Employer representatives shared their various experiences on how they are involved in the policy making in the migration sector in their countries. Some countries such as Rwanda were applauded for their citizen and employer friendly policies. Other countries such as Ethiopia and Kenya cited lack of work decency especially when their citizens go to some Arabic countries as some of their challenges.
In matters pertaining to fostering social protection in labour migration, viewed miscommunication as a huge barrier.
“This miscommunication is as a cause of lack of one streamlined source of information that has been sifted through and validated. With the rise of technology most people access wrong information from invalid persons, get employed abroad and fly out with a few or forged documents only to find themselves in forced labour and human trafficking or working in unconducive environments.”
“Kidole kimoja hakivunji chawa,” a Swahili proverb that emphasizes on the need of unity especially when it comes to facing a common enemy. Employers welcomed their governments to the table on the second day to discuss emerging matters and jointly find solutions. The governments welcomed the initiative and hoped it can cascade to national levels and not just remain at international level.
Overall, the following were the takeaways of the entire two-day workshop:
  • Employers and Governments have a common interest in ensuring an effective migration legal framework, which responds to skills shortages or skills mismatches, ensures job creation, transition to formal economies, increase investment, and contributes to sustainable development and African growth. Governments and employers need to work hand in hand.
  • While most of the migration flows happen within Africa, Employers call for effective regional frameworks that allow free movement of labour.
  • Employers call for formal institutional mechanisms to facilitate meaningful engagement with governments to ensure the implementation of the Global Compact for Migration
The next regional workshop within Africa on the same topic will be held on 29th and 30th of March 2022 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast and 21st  and 22nd of April 2022 in Johannesburg South Africa.


Author :Wendy Graedler