Role of the private sector in migration management

A greater involvement of the private sector in migration management would contribute to Serbia’s economic and social growth

October 28, 2022
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Belgrade, 28 October 2022 – With the support of the Government of Switzerland, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) presented a research on the possibilities of a higher contribution of the private sector to migration management in Serbia. The research entitled „Mapping the Private Sector Potentials for the Involvement in the Migration Management Processes: Case of Serbia“ was conducted in order to determine the capacities, motivation and readiness of the private sector to contribute to achieving Serbian migration policy goals.  

Together with the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, UNDP conducted a survey involving over 600 Serbian companies and analysed their position on the inclusion of a growing number of circular migrants as well as working-age third-country nationals in the work of their companies. The research also considered the readiness of Serbian companies to strengthen cooperation with Serbian entrepreneurs in the diaspora.

On the occasion of the presentation of the Report, Mr. Richard Kohli, director of the Swiss Cooperation Office in Serbia, pointed out that his country signed a Migration Partnership Agreement with the Republic of Serbia in 2009. He explained that this was a special form of bilateral cooperation in various areas - ranging from asylum system support to migration and development.

“Switzerland supports the joint programme between UNDP and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) focusing on migration and sustainable development in 11 countries worldwide. Serbia is a very active participant in this programme and has achieved good results, especially on the local community level. Cooperation with the private sector, both in Serbia and in the diaspora, is of particular importance to us in this programme as well as the fact that it is conducted both directly and via the Chamber of Commerce. In that way we encourage economic development of both the local communities and the country as a whole and are tapping into the potential provided by migrations”, said Kohli.

“With the support of the Government of Switzerland and in partnership with the Government of Serbia and IOM, UNDP is assisting Serbia in using the migration process as an incentive to achieve sustainable development. Serbian citizens living and working abroad, as well as third country nationals, could significantly contribute to the economic development of the country with their knowledge and skills. In order for the Serbian economy and society to tap into this great potential, it is necessary for the business sector to become more involved in the migration management processes”, said Anas Qarman, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Serbia.

The research showed that businesses in Serbia are not sufficiently familiar with the possibilities of cooperation with their counterparts in the diaspora - around 66% of them. When asked in which areas and in what ways they could cooperate with businesses in the diaspora in order to contribute to the socio-economic development of their local community, only 34% of businesses were able to provide an answer. In their opinion, the most important form of cooperation is product and service placement, transfer of knowledge, experiences, ideas and innovative technologies. The areas where they would be prepared to work with the diaspora are: environment - including recycling and renewable sources of energy, agriculture, IT, tourism, culture, trade, infrastructure and civil engineering. 

Also, a significant number of businesses are not familiar with work qualifications of migrants nor with the possibilities of their employment in Serbia – 82.5%. However, 60% of businesses said they were prepared to hire migrants and 31% said they were prepared to provide them with training. The type of  training they are prepared to offer migrants is mainly for jobs that require level equal to secondary education, such as: plumbing, professional hygiene, woodwork and construction, carpentry, sales assistant, mechanic, carer for the elderly, baker, etc. To a lesser extent, businesses also mentioned training in the IT sector, pharmaceutical industry, dentistry, health, graphic design.

The results showed that owners and company managers who had worked abroad are better informed about the possibilities of cooperation with the diaspora and that the majority of them are familiar with migrant work qualifications and more prepared to hire them.

As the research concludes, greater involvement of the private sector in migration management could help Serbia to tackle two major challenges it faces both on the national and the local level. First, Serbia would be better prepared to respond to the need to make its economy more competitive and based on the knowledge and innovation, even though its working-age population is shrinking due to ageing and outmigration. In addition, this would allow Serbia’s cities and municipalities to take advantage of a increased migration flows, which they have been facing since 2015, for the development of the local economy.

The Research was conducted within the Global Programme on Making Migration Work for Sustainable Development, implemented by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and funded by the Government of Switzerland through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).