Labor Migration Can Help Boost Afghanistan’s Growth

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The FINANCIAL — Afghanistan can boost its growth and create more jobs by establishing better migration policies to help its migrant workers seek opportunities abroad, says a new report released on February 5 by the Government of Afghanistan and the World Bank.

The report Managed Labor Migration in Afghanistan outlines how expanding formal employment abroad for Afghans could, within 15 years, triple the amount of income sent back home in the form of remittances. Moreover, by securing temporary and legal jobs in other countries, returnee migrants can improve their professional skills, bring back investment resources, and foster an entrepreneurial spirit to spur domestic growth, the report says.

“This report is timely and highly welcome. It confirms our longstanding position that managed economic migration offers a very promising avenue to tackle the employment and development challenges of Afghanistan. ” said HE Faizullah Zaki, Minister of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled.

Afghanistan’s limited economic growth and high population growth have put pressure on its labor market, which registers 400,000 new entrants every year, only half of whom will be able to find jobs in Afghanistan. This coupled with the expected annual number of returnees, of which a highly significant percentage are working age, put the domestic labor market under serious stress. In this context, economic migration is an important instrument to sustain livelihoods, with 16 percent of households having a family member that has previously lived or is currently working abroad.

The report highlights how the lack of legal channels have kept current Afghan economic migration flows largely unregulated and mostly composed of unskilled and often illiterate workers. This contrasts with a vision of managed migration in which Afghan labor migrants receive the minimum skills at home, move to richer countries legally for an agreed period, have a guaranteed job and salary, and have a chance to learn new skills prior to their return.

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To that end, the report provides policy scenarios to help Afghanistan improve its migration approach. Specifically, it recommends that the Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs conduct joint routine market research, identify new entrance points into destination labor markets, and build a coherent migration management system.

While the most immediate opportunities for new regular migration channels are with Turkey and Gulf countries, the report also encourages Afghanistan to establish well-managed labor migration with other countries, including richer OECD members.

“The promises of a managed economic migration for Afghanistan and the world are substantial,” said Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Afghanistan. “The findings of the report can be instrumental in informing Afghanistan’s migration policies and helping Afghan migrant workers find more and better job opportunities abroad.”

This is the third series of reports on the topic published by the World Bank in coordination and with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled.


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