Deskilling is a double jeopardy for countries of origin and destination. It represents losses for countries of destination because the skills and talents of their foreign migrant workers are not fully utilized and, at the same time, origin countries lose a significant number of their skilled workers.

An analytical review conducted by Dr. Sheila Siar, PIDS Director for Research Information, underscores the difficulties faced by migrants when it comes to finding job in the host country and accentuates the role of governments to mitigate the negative impacts of deskilling.

As defined in the study, `deskilling` means to be deployed to positions lower that the migrants` educational attainment, training, or experience, owing to the nonrecognition of their overseas qualifications and the bias for education acquired in the host country, local experience, cultural know-how, and English proficiency.

Many traditional immigration countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand give strong preference to migrant workers with higher education, skills, and professional training that they can transfer to their countries. However, it is not unusual for migrants to be relegated to lower status and lower paying jobs. Certain professions like medicine, nursing, law, and teaching also require overseas-educated migrants to undergo a `bridging` course or a supervised training and even work as an intern (in the case of doctors), and pass a licensing examination. These requirements may take a few months or some years to complete.

The study also emphasized the effects of race, gender, and ethnicity in the deskilling of migrant workers. In Canada, for example, there is less chance for migrants to hold a managerial position. Migrant engineers who migrated after the age of 27 and those who were born in the Philippines or in Eastern Europe have the lowest probability of holding engineering or managerial positions. Another study conducted in Australia found that non-Commonwealth Asian nurses are 70 percent less likely to be appointed to position of responsibility compared to nurses of English-speaking background or those from the UK, US, Canada, South Africa, and New Zealand.

The study highlighted the crucial role of governments of both countries of origin and destination in addressing the deskilling of migrant workers who are mostly from developing countries. The author noted that home countries, particularly their governments, should educate their departing migrants to prepare them for the challenges ahead. In the Philippines, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration are the government bodies that perform this task through their country-specific pre-departure orientation seminars which are compulsory for all departing permanent migrants and for those who are leaving the country on temporary labor contracts, respectively. On their part, governments of destination countries should have a more in-depth investigation of the actual situation of their migrants instead of just relying on statistics and evaluation reports proclaiming the success of their migration policies.

In addition, the mismatch between immigration laws and labor policies must be addressed by destination countries, the study noted. There should be better labor policies and suitable settlement strategies for their migrants to provide them with a positive environment to achieve professional and economic stability with less difficulty.

You may read the full study by downloading this link:

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