The recent white paper by Manpower Borderless Workforce 2008 brings out the great churn that is happening in international labour markets. Workers are migrating permanently or on a short term basis, within a company or changing companies, sometimes changing occupations in search of a more fruitful work profile and lifestyles. Companies in turn are hiring internationally – sometimes for employment in a single location and sometimes moving their employees across national borders. The world may not have become flat yet, but it is rapidly becoming borderless.
India is a significant contributor to this phenomenon; it is exporting talent internationally in a big way and is considered to be a significant ‘threat’ internationally. India, of course, is not alone. But given its vast and rapidly increasing English speaking workforce India is emerging as a major supplier of international talent.
This is all happening at a far more massive scale than ever in the past. When aggregate national economic growth is on an average 8 percent per annum, but is characterized by large regional variation, it is evident that relatively greater opportunities will act as a magnet for all those willing and able. And what is happening across national borders is also occurring across sub-national borders. IT professionals of Tamil descent form a large part of the Bangalore story, labour from Bihar is benefiting agriculture in Punjab, large numbers are moving from rural to urban areas in search of a better livelihood and lifestyles.
The debate on international and domestic migration has attained significant importance on the national as well as international platform. Growing mobility of labour in a global economy, consequent population and demographic impacts , coupled with enhanced security concerns, have together underlined the importance of good migration management policies to transform it into an efficient, orderly and humane process. The question is no longer restricted to whether migration should or should not be allowed, but has shifted to , how to manage migration effectively to enhance its positive effects on development and mitigate the negative (MOIA, Annual Report, 2007-08).
Migration has enormous potential to contribute to development and alleviate poverty for a country like India, but the process needs to be understood better if we are to put in place policies that maximize gains from migration. What will be the consequences of large scale international migration from India? What will be the developmental consequences of migration of highly skilled workers from India? Being one of the main exporters of technical talent to the world economy, these concerns are important.
To address these issues it is important to have a better understanding of talent migration in India; both internal as well as international. This background paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the process of migration in India. This analysis is undertaken under three broad themes with Section 2 covering issues such as: What is the scale and scope of talent migration both (i) within India and (ii) between India and the world? Section 3, primarily covering the supply side issues, will describe the demographic dividend of India and provides a perspective to the same by discussing the employability constraints of the working population of India. In this context the following questions become important: (a) how to convert this demographic dividend into an employable dividend; (b) Whether and how short term training by hirers (with an international/domestic orientation) can improve the employment potential of the Indian workforce?; (c) Whether and how domestic skills shortages result in leading Indian companies seeking talent overseas? Finally, Section 4 of the paper briefly discusses the gains and costs of migration and follows that with a discussion of related policy issues. The background paper concludes by providing