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Far from fearing large-scale immigration from the developing world, countries of the European Union need to embrace it to secure their economic future, says an academic at one of Europe’s top business schools.

According to Desiree van Gorp, a Professor at Nyenrode Business School in the Netherlands, sourcing of talent on a global rather than a purely domestic basis will be essential if European Union nations are to sustain a viable workforce.

“The cry for protectionism to secure local jobs has increased dramatically in the current financial crisis,” says Professor Van Gorp. “However we must move from short-term regulatory efforts conceived by political hysteria to liberal regulatory strategies combined with initiatives for labour market assistance and the improvement of overall competitiveness. And this is where the EU will fall short if urgent measures are not taken.”

Van Gorp points out that the latest analysis by the World Bank shows the EU likely to lose 66 million workers by 2050, representing a decline in the workforce of almost one-third and leaving the community with two retirees per every active working person. At the same time, emerging nations in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Middle East and North Africa will gain an additional 570 million workers in the age bracket from 15 to 39.

“Instead of fearing this powerful economic force and requesting protective measures, it may be more beneficial to join forces to explore opportunities for bridging the gap between the high demand and low supply in the EU labour market,” she says. “It means that the EU needs to work on increasing both labour productivity and labour force employment rates, for example through higher participation of women in the workforce. However, although both are needed, they will not suffice. The only sustainable solution will be a migration policy allowing migrants to replace our retiring workforce. It will take substantial courage from our politicians to open the doors for foreign workers and fine-tune migration policies accordingly in times of financial crisis when fear of job losses dominates the public debate.”


Adrian Barrett
BlueSky PR

Tel: +44 (0)845 3700 126

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