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Immigration, education and industry

Published: 
Sunday, April 22, 2018

Australian, Canadian, and US immigration policies all emphasize skill-based selection criteria to propel their economies to the top tier of competitiveness. Australia’s skilled migration programme favours immigrants who are young, university-educated, and English-speaking.

Australia offers a range of visas to accelerate economic growth that include Skilled Independent Visa-Points-tested stream and Temporary Skill Shortage Visa. Under Australian law, it is illegal for education providers to endorse unregistered migration assistance.

Some emerging economies are spending on education on an enormous scale, even if quality lags behind quantity. The global middle classes are investing heavily in overseas education, creating a dense pool of talent.

Governments wishing to tap into this liquid loch of talent and to make the most out of this free floating body of highly educated immigrants face two loosely coupled tasks: (1) attracting educated immigrants and (2) designing immigration and integration policies that detect those people with the best prospects for success and encouraging them to stay.

The decision-making calculus on choice of country is informed by the destination’s attractiveness.

Talented immigrants respond to opportunities that give them the best return on the investment they have made to nurture their capabilities.

They also want rich capital/infrastructure environments that enable them to realise personal and professional goals.

Such environments are thick with entrepreneurs, a critical mass of talented people in complimentary disciplines to create synergies and multiplier effects, venture capitalists, industrial clusters, and university-industry linkages like those at the University of Jerusalem.

In addition, immigration policy must also take into consideration the destination’s social model, styles of life, quality of life, and the ability to live in a safe and tolerant society.

But talented individuals do not move to new locations because of immigration policies. Pretty policies are insufficient to make any country inherently attractive.

Nonetheless, the “immigration package” that is available to prospective residents affects their ability to take advantage of opportunities in the host country.

Asylum applications and refugees give rise to a different set of immigration problems as Venezuelans move across porous borders into São Paulo, Bogotá, and Cedros in Trinidad and Tobago.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 4.8 million people have fled Syria into Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq, and one million have requested asylum in Europe.

People fleeing conflict often end up in a neighbouring country—but many do not want to settle there permanently. Pakistan, with 1.6 million refugees, ranks highest for sheltering refugees.

In Chile, the Immigration Act focuses on regulating entrance allowing the Government to develop one-off initiatives on urgent matters without changing the national security core of the law—known as the “policy of no policy.”

The situation is worsened by the expanding rights of migrants at the national level without changing the undergirding legal framework, resulting in a “state of mind policy.”

Over the last five years, municipalities, or comunas, have developed peculiar initiatives on integration, housing, healthcare, and education. The absence of law reform to protect these initiatives opens the migrant to the vagaries of local government which may simply choose to disband initiatives, as has happened in 2016 in Chile.

Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile, signed a proposal to change the immigration law in Chile citing the fact that there are up to 20,000 undocumented immigrants in Chile.

This causes the economy to be stagnated and negatively impacts the employment rate. She argued further that the old laws created an irregular system of immigration that opened the door to all sorts of abuse—by foreigners and Chileans alike.

The proposal gives priority to the establishment of a system of principles, rights, and tasks with which the immigrant must comply.

Australia and Chile rank 21st and 33rd respectively on the 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Index (GCI).

Both expect economic growth as they interweave immigration reform, trade policy, labour law, and the needs of industry to become attractors of educated immigrants and creatives to drive competitiveness.

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