The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has called for strengthened partnerships to promote skills development and improve productivity of migrant workers in the West Africa and Sahel region.
Mrs Cynthia Samuel-Olajuwon, ILO Regional Director for Africa, made this call at the Sub-Regional Tripartite Consultations for the Formulation of Skills Partnerships on Migration in West Africa and the Sahel in Abuja.
According to her, the partnership is important, as the reality of migration was glaring in West Africa and in the Sahel region, saying no fewer than 6.7 million migrants have moved to destinations outside the region.
She said informal employment rate has remained high at 86 per cent with 32.5 per cent working in extreme poverty.
Samuel-Olajuwon added that with skills partnership, migrant workers would be able to contribute for labour market outcomes and integration.
She stressed the importance of collaboration between countries affected by migration; especially countries of origin and destination, to enable migrants benefit from new skills, which allowed them to find decent jobs and develop their careers.
“Countries of residence benefit if more skills development happens in their countries, as domestic and international labour markets form ties with countries of destination, knowledge exchange, remittances and in particular when people return with new skills.
“Countries of destination benefit from migrant workers contribution to the skills pool in the country, and the skills shortages that are filled.
“Employers benefit if they find the right talent for their operations, no matter where workers come from,’’ she said.
Samuel-Olajuwon, who is also the ILO Assistant Director-General, added that skills partnership would ensure that rights of migrant workers, and in particular women and young people, are protected.
The regional director said that the recently inaugurated Global Skills Partnership on Migration Development would help to mobilise constituents to build platforms to assist national and migrant workers to maximise synergies and leverage on comparative advantages.
The ECOWAS Commission’s Head, Social Affairs, Dr Alves Fernando, noted that collaboration between the ILO and ECOWAS had helped to better the lives of workers in the region.
He said there was the need for economic policies at the national levels to discourage young persons from embarking on irregular migration, noting that the commission would continue to partner with relevant stakeholders to change the narrative.
Fernando added that efforts should be made to concretise the activities of all social partners, while pledging the commitment of the commission to develop competencies of workers.
Mr Emmanuel Ugboaja, NLC General Secretary, said that organised labour shared in the vision of tripartite partnerships for labour migration for development, adding that the meeting would give the needed direction for fair migration.
This, he said, was in tandem with the goal of the Africa Decent Work Agenda 2020-2030, pledging the commitment of the NLC to support efforts for free movement and migration for development.
“Fair migration is critical to development, we are reassuring you of our commitment to improve the lives of migrants and all Nigerians, NLC is purely driven by patriotic ideals and we stand in full solidarity.’’
Ugboaja added that the workshop would provide the needed support to the stakeholders to develop skills and strategies that would contribute immensely to their struggle for better management of migration and to overcome limitations in the management of migration.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that the Tripartite Consultations aim to share knowledge and good practices on policy coherence between migration and skills policies, and assess the potential benefits from skill partnerships for fairer migration.
In West Africa and the Sahel, the ILO has inaugurated country studies and a sub-regional study on the nexus between migration and skills policies, assessing migration trends, priority occupations and how skills development and recognition could benefit migrant workers in both countries of origin and destination.
Editing by Oluyinka Fadare/Felix Ajide