New Challenges Posed by East-West Brain Drain Warns IOM at High-Level Vienna event

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Vienna - Central and Eastern European countries are seeing dramatic shifts in their migration patterns, changing the makeup of communities and posing heretofore unseen challenges, warned IOM at a major conference on the “brain drain” phenomenon at the headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Monday.

The changing nature of work and demographic trends are having a significant impact on labour migration policies within the region, noted IOM’s Regional Director for Southeastern Europe, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Argentina Szabados, speaking at Vienna’s Hofburg Palace.

“The fast-moving digitalisation of work and the so-called gig economy are having significant and often unpredictable influences,” noted Ms Szabados, speaking on behalf of IOM Director General António Vitorino. “Current migration levels and the demographic trends in the region suggest that labour mobility will continue to be a defining feature of the region. This is particularly true for non-offshoreable and non-automizable occupations”.

The conference gave government representatives, United Nations Agencies, international organizations, and businesses an occasion to take stock of the evolution of human capital migration patterns, to re-examine existing conceptual frameworks and to renew cooperation. The high-level dialogue also provided an opportunity to debate new ideas which can shape future policies, while introducing the business/work-forces nexus to contemporary debate.

The event was organized by the Southeast European Cooperative Initiative, under the Patronage H.E. Alexander van der Bellen, Federal President of the Republic of Austria.

While welcoming efforts made to accommodate and integrate migrant workers in the changing world of work, Ms Szabados outlined the challenges faced by society:

“We need to recognize that integration is not just about the services we offer to immigrants, but also the way we design our public spaces, the way we structure our housing policy, the way we organize our public transportation, and the way our media communicate. Governments supporting labour mobility and employers bringing in foreign workers need to work together with local stakeholders to develop comprehensive approaches to support migrants’ integration and social cohesion within communities.”

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