9:00—10:30 AM Washington DC time

Building Migration Pathways at All Levels: Encouraging a Skills Mix


  • Natasha Iskander, Associate Professor, Public Policy, New York University's Wagner School of Public Service 
  • Zuzana Cepla, Senior Associate, Labor Mobility Partnerships (LaMP)


  • Simon Bowyer, Chief Executive, Concordia, UK
  • Kangyeon Lee, Senior Social Protection Specialist, World Bank and Secondee, Ministry of Employment and Labor, South Korea


  • Helen Dempster, Assistant Director and Senior Associate for Policy Outreach for Migration, Displacement, and Humanitarian Policy, Center for Global Development


High-income countries around the world depend on immigration to help foster strong societies and economies. Yet when deciding who is allowed to enter, many high-income countries use a simple dichotomy based on educational attainment – “high” and “low” skilled.

This dichotomy ignores three key facts. Firstly, economies require a wide variety of skills and abilities to thrive; admitting people at either end ignores this complexity. Secondly, most foreign workers bring a “skills mix”. This could include educational attainment and knowledge of a foreign language, but also abilities learnt at previous and current jobs as well as interpersonal and other social skills. Thirdly, COVID-19 has exposed the essential roles occupied by foreign workers at all skill levels, and many locals recognize and support this dynamic.

Despite these facts, there is little willingness among high-income countries to admit more workers at a range of skill levels, or even do away with a stringent focus on educational-based skill levels overall. In this event, we will discuss how to build this willingness, and more mutually beneficial migration pathways at all skill levels.

If you have questions for our panelists, please submit them to, tweet @CGDev #CGDTalks, or submit your comments via YouTube.

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