10 Steps to Implementing the Global Compact for Migration through Global Skill Partnerships

Having survived an 18-month global consultations and negotiations process more or less intact, the final text of the Global Compact for Migration is set to be adopted early next week. An overwhelming majority of UN Member States will agree to a set of principles, policies, and partnerships in the interest of more safe, orderly, and regular migration. While it will be an international agreement, the Compact is not legally binding, and it is up to the sovereign decisions of individual Member States on whether and what aspects to implement.

While the Compact covers broad themes and best practices to govern migration today and for the future, there is only one specific policy proposal included in the text: the Global Skill Partnerships.

What is a Global Skill Partnership?

A Global Skill Partnership (GSP) is a bilateral agreement designed to channel migration pressures into tangible, mutual benefits for both destination and origin countries.

In a Global Skill Partnership, the destination country agrees to provide technology and finance to train potential migrants in their country of origin with targeted skills, prior to migration. And thereby, the destination country gets migrants with precisely the skills they need to integrate and contribute upon arrival. The country of origin gets support for the training of non-migrants too— which increases rather than drains their human capital.

The Global Compact for Migration explicitly states that building GSPs is one way to implement the Compact.

Why now?

Demographic pressures for migration are colossal and will continue. The labor force of sub-Saharan Africa will rise by 800 million additional workers by the year 2050, just as the European labor force is declining. The world urgently needs new policy tools to manage migration better for everyone. Global Skill Partnerships offer one of countless needed innovations that can make demographic change an opportunity.

So You Want to Build a Global Skill Partnership? Here Are the Ten Steps You Need to Take.

Building coalitions

  1. Global Skill Partnerships are a development tool and a migration management tool. GSPs are a way for countries to work together to get more of what they want from migration and less of what they do not want. Countries of origin benefit from technology transfer and training of local workers. Destination countries benefit from a lawful migration channel for skilled workers, and from shaping migration that might otherwise arrive unlawfully and unskilled.

  2. GSPs save money. Skills training is often dramatically less expensive in the origin country. An upfront investment paves the way for a cost-effective, sustainable, and likely self-financing endeavors in the long-run.

  3. Training in the “home” and “away” tracks should match the needs of the partners. The dual-track approach of the GSP model allows for one training cohort to be established within the same sector, but with “home” and “away” track participants training in different specialties based on needs in the origin (“home”) country and the destination (“away”) country.

Critical partnerships

  1. Build relationships within and between governments. Constructive working relationships with the partner country are essential. While a number of ministries are relevant and could be involved, there should be at least one “champion” ministry willing and able to take this forward.

  2. Work directly with employers and labor groups from the start. General skill training is often insufficient to meet employers’ specific needs. Employers must be directly involved in training and placement to advise on curriculum and ensure integration into the workforce is immediate.

  3. Utilize local partners and existing institutions in the country of origin. GSPs work best when based in, and strengthening, existing training institutions in the country of origin. Large multinational corporations (employers) may also have an existing presence in origin countries, and could support investments in local institutions or have their own training presence.

Structuring the training

  1. Address human capital challenges among trainers early on. Implementing agencies could utilize professional exchanges to bring destination country technical skills to the origin country training centers/trainers. Professional exchanges with previous and current participants on short-term rotational bases could happen once the programs are up and running.

  2. Use the dual-track training system as a tool to address specific labor market participation constraints in the country of origin. Identify the needs or barriers in the origin country market, such as high youth unemployment or lack of female training participation. For example, the “home” training track can be designed to engage women while training in skills most useful to their employment prospects.

  3. Any needed language training should be advancedboth conversational and technical. Conversational language abilities will be important not only to professional success but also to integration upon arrival (even if the migration is not permanent), and naturally technical fluency for their trade will be crucial. Language training should address both categories.

Once migrants arrive

  1. Administrative and integration support prior to and immediately upon arrival is important. Integration of migrants is a challenge. GSPs are designed as tools to ensure that integration is as rapid and as complete as possible. Directly connecting with an employer and professional colleagues, earning income, and making tax contributions from the day of arrival are the very best terms on which migration can happen. Program administrators should also cooperate with colleagues in foreign affairs and immigration to ensure that visas are accessible and enforced.

The Global Skill Partnership model is a way to change what migration is. People who see migrants as those who burden public services and lower native workers’ wages react differently to migrants than people who see migrants as necessary, productive members of society. With proper design, Global Skill Partnerships offer governments a new tool—alongside the old, unilateral tools—to maximize the benefits of migration.


CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.