Shifting the Narrative: Worldwide ERC® Discusses the War for Talent with Global Business Leaders

Worldwide ERC® President and CEO Lynn Shotwell joined a distinguished group of global business leaders to dive deep into the current war for talent, how migration impacts businesses, and the public narrative on migration, especially in post-pandemic economic recovery worldwide.

On 1 July, Worldwide ERC® President and CEO Lynn Shotwell joined a distinguished group of global business leaders to dive deep into the current war for talent, how migration impacts businesses, and the public narrative on migration, especially in post-pandemic economic recovery worldwide.

With 54% of companies globally reporting a talent shortage according to IOE research, the need for skilled talent continues, but the public narrative around migration remains fragmented. Why are migration policies taking on new importance for employers? What is the business case for well-regulated migration policy frameworks? Why does the public narrative need to change?

To help answer these questions, the International Organization of Employers (IOE) and the Business Advisory Group on Migration held an open public session with global business leaders “to create a better understanding on why migration matters to business and how businesses, through their voices, but also through their innovative solutions, can shift the narrative.”

The Importance of Talent Migration for Business: Shifting the Narrative

The first part of the discussion spoke to the importance of migration to businesses and the pressing need to shift the public narrative around migration. Attracting talent is fundamental to business, said Alvise Giustiniani (Vice President, Illicit Trade Prevention, Philip Morris International), but currently, the public often views migration in a negative light. The fear that unskilled migrants will absorb the labor market is pervasive. The IOE is seeking to reframe that story and highlight the benefits of skilled talent mobility to local economies worldwide.

Speaking to the Kenyan context was Jacqueline Mugo (Executive Director of the Federation of Kenya Employers and Secretary General of Business Africa), who pointed out that Africa’s talent and skills gap requires migrants to play a vital role in expanding the economy. Oil and gas, for example, is a newly expanding sector in need of workers from outside of Kenya. Businesses, meanwhile, play a crucial role in driving the social integration of these workers to help shift the narrative around migration.

Further, it’s essential to have a regulatory framework to connect skilled talent to decent jobs, said Annemarie Muntz (Managing Director Global Public Affairs, Randstad). Even before COVID-19 upended how we work and live, there was a shortage of workers in Europe. With massive transitions of talent from sector to sector and rising demand for their skills, governments and businesses must work together to help get jobs to people. Migrant workers, as part of the global labor market, are key to unlocking the door to these economic opportunities.

Worldwide ERC® Conducting Research on the Mobility of Pharmaceutical Talent

To help drive these efforts, the creation of sound policies backed by facts and data is paramount. Aiding in this endeavor, Worldwide ERC® President and CEO Lynn Shotwell described Worldwide ERC®’s current research in the field investigating challenges of the pharmaceutical industry securing the needed talent in a period of intense vaccine production. Partnering with IOE, this research is delving into how senior human resources officers (SHROs) in the pharmaceutical industry have navigated intense demand for talent and the imperative to get this talent in the right places to do urgent work in vaccine and drug development. Worldwide ERC®’s survey results are expected to be published in early September.

“Migration is critically important to business, especially the global mobility and relocation industry that Worldwide ERC® represents,” said Shotwell. “The pharmaceutical industry, racing the clock to bring the best teams together to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine, presents a compelling case study of how the pandemic brought the critical role of migration and talent mobility into sharp focus.”

Shotwell also discussed why government policies that support work from anywhere are agile and are attentive to employers and workers are needed now more than ever. Earlier this year, Worldwide ERC® released Principles for Public Policy Reform, which make a case for an Anywhere-Agile-Attentive public policy framework. The organization also signed on to a joint WECAN statement with the Canadian and European talent mobility associations, calling on governments worldwide to create policy infrastructures that recognize the importance of talent deployment in economic recovery.

As governments and businesses develop comprehensive frameworks and policies for migration, recruitment, and skills development, workforce mobility professionals will be key players. No matter where work is going, mobility is there to help facilitate the movement of critically needed talent while helping to shift the narrative around the importance of migration for businesses and the global economy.

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