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ICC has joined forces with the Canadian and Australian governments, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Fragomen, Talent Beyond Boundaries, and RefugePoint to launch the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility with the aim of encouraging and supporting the adoption of labour complementary pathways for refugees.

The Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility is a new, multi-sectoral and multistakeholder initiative to increase refugee access to third country solutions via labour complementary pathways, through global dialogue and technical advice.

Founding members gathered on 6 April for a virtual event to introduce the goals of the Global Task Force, discuss the value of expanding labour pathways accessible to refugees, and invite interested stakeholders to become involved. The event also introduced Canada as its inaugural chair.

ICC Secretary General John W.H. Denton AO said: “As the institutional representative of the global private sector, ICC enables businesses to secure peace, prosperity and opportunity for all, including displaced people whose livelihoods have been compromised. This initiative on labour mobility is a great example of how businesses worldwide can contribute to the delivery of durable solutions for the millions of displaced people across the globe.”

By creating other ways for refugees to find durable solutions in third countries, outside of traditional resettlement programmes, labour complementary pathway initiatives have the potential to be transformative for everyone involved. They can be particularly efficient in:

  • helping displaced people move safely to third countries through regular labour or economic migration programmes
  • recognising refugees’ skills, abilities and talents, as well as their need for protection
  • showing how refugees contribute to their new countries, communities and workplaces
  • giving employers access to a new talent pool to fill job openings

Their success depends on partnerships among governments, private sector, civil society, and refugees with lived experience in resettlement and labour pathways. Made up of actors who actively support the growth and implementation of labour complementary pathways, the founding members of the Global Task Force are:

  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC)
  • Government of Canada
  • United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
  • International Organization for Migration (IOM)
  • Australian Government
  • Talent Beyond Boundaries, the first organisation in the world to pioneer talent mobility for refugees
  • RefugePoint, an agency advancing lasting solutions for at-risk refugees and supporting the humanitarian community to do the same
  • Fragomen, the world’s leading corporate immigration services provider and adviser

This latest initiative comes as ICC has taken leading role in advocating for business action in response to the intensifying global refugee crisis, particularly as result of the conflict in Ukraine, through joint initiatives and calls-to-action with UNHCR, the WHO Foundation and UNICEF.

Joint statement – Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility

Across the globe, millions of people are displaced and in need of safety and protection. Only about 1% of refugees have access to resettlement each year, leaving millions of people in limbo and a significant talent pool often untapped. Labour complementary pathways provide an additional way, beyond resettlement, for displaced people to find durable solutions in third countries through labour migration programmes. In so doing, they recognise refugees’ skills, experience and talent, in addition to their need for protection.

To see these successes on a larger scale, we need to make labour immigration avenues accessible to refugees. Today, the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility was launched and introduced Canada as its inaugural chair. The Task Force will build momentum for labour complementary pathways around the world. Leaders from Canada, Australia, the United Nations Refugee Agency, the International Organization for Migration, the International Chamber of Commerce, Fragomen, Talent Beyond Boundaries, and RefugePoint held the first meeting of the Task Force to discuss the transformative potential of refugee labour mobility initiatives.

By working together with like-minded partners and countries, Canada will continue to be a global leader in attracting international talent to fill skilled labour shortages and drive post-pandemic economic recovery. Labour complementary pathways are intended to work alongside existing humanitarian resettlement programmes, with the goal of expanding the number of pathways available for skilled refugees to immigrate abroad.

This initiative builds on Canada’s Economic Mobility Pathways Pilot (EMPP), a ground-breaking programme that recognises the skills and abilities of refugees by removing barriers and helping them and their families immigrate to Canada through existing economic programmes.

The Task Force will engage with global stakeholders from governments, businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society to increase the number of skilled refugees welcomed to Canada, while decreasing labour shortages where Canada needs it most.

The Task Force will organise activities throughout the year to identify opportunities to implement and increase labour pathway initiatives. In addition, it will work to better understand the policy and operational challenges associated with their implementation and to find practical solutions to overcome them. This will include immense collaboration to ensure pilot projects can develop into official programs. The success of this work will rely on participation from the many stakeholders who actively support the implementation of these pathways, and whose experience and lessons learned will be crucial to informing policy and program improvements.

The Task Force will also prepare a detailed report in 2024, which will document its work and successes and outline policy and operational considerations for the scaling and institutionalisation of labour complementary pathways for refugees around the world.

Through this global collaboration, the Task Force will explore how these initiatives can support skilled refugees in need of protection, while also providing opportunities for them to make meaningful contributions to their new communities.

Understanding and facilitating the admission of skilled refugees through alternative and innovative pathways is not only a complement to our humanitarian commitments, it is a commitment to economic growth through supporting our communities and industries across the country that rely on immigration. Labour complementary pathways will increase the attraction and retention of newcomers in regions with acute economic, labour and demographic challenges. Together, the Global Task Force on Refugee Labour Mobility will further help bring the immeasurable contributions of immigrants to our communities and all sectors of the economy.

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