On Wednesday 22 September, the European Union Global Diaspora Facility (EUDiF) and the Migration Partnership Facility (MPF) hosted a webinar to present and further discuss the results of the newly published research on the potential role of the diaspora in the implementation of Talent Partnerships (TPs) with the researchers and representatives of each of the types of actor featured.
The discussion revolved around the opportunities to facilitate and maximise the potential of the diaspora as identified in the study, with different perspectives offered by a diaspora organisation, AFFORD, an implementing organisation, Enabel, and an EU Member State, France. Despite the varied standpoints, a number of patterns and recommendations emerged:
Acknowledging the super diversity of diaspora actors
Ranging from umbrella organisations, hometown associations and professional networks to individual diaspora entrepreneurs and investors, the diversity of diaspora must be appreciated for the diverse set of skills, interests and different levels of capacity it entails. The practical implication of this diversity is a need for a targeted approach to identify skills development needs in countries of origin in order to effectively engage migrants and their descendants in knowledge transfer initiatives. Different diaspora stakeholders may also benefit from elements within the TPs. For instance, increased labour mobility through TPs offers diaspora-led businesses the possibility of recruiting local talents in their country of origin, but also creating employment in Europe.
Emphasis on diaspora skills and knowledge
Diaspora stakeholders have skills that can be leveraged within TPs by both countries of origin and destination to make significant contributions to development. In the case of diaspora entrepreneurship, the connection they retain with the homeland makes diasporas particularly perceptive in terms of market needs and employment opportunities. Mentorship programmes allow diaspora members to share their knowledge, provide training and support local talents. Mentorship programmes and other knowledge transfer initiatives involving diaspora, such as academic exchanges, are structured mechanisms that can enable mutual upskilling.
Ensuring a win-win-win approach is critical
Countries of origin, destination and diaspora groups can be equal beneficiaries of TPs. While diaspora are to an extent driven by a desire to ‘give back’, TPs should be a means to simultaneously advance their interests by increasing their skills and creating new opportunities. Countries of origin can hugely benefit from skills transfer initiatives and partnerships aimed at boosting employment, whilst strengthening diaspora engagement. In countries of destination, TPs represent a viable approach in promoting legal pathways to migration. Moreover, integration is a key dimension and tapping into the intercultural and soft skills of diaspora members can facilitate the integration of newly arrived migrants, as proven by actions carried out by FORIM.
Scale-up potential of existing mobility schemes for greater impact
For TPs to mobilise diaspora talents an effective step is to expand existing programmes by engaging diasporas and working with existing diaspora networks. For example, in Enabel’s labour mobility programmes in Morocco, diaspora networks provide an important point of contact to reach out to African diasporas excluded from services for safe working conditions. Additionally, connecting the work of MEET Africa, implemented by Expertise France, with other government initiatives and the private sector can open up more opportunities to scale up investment activities in both countries of origin and destination.
Local-level engagement is key for sustainable development
Given that many diaspora organisations carry out projects at the village or community level, channelling diaspora resources into local enterprise represents a way of promoting partnerships between local authorities and creating models of engagement that can be sustainable and replicated on a bigger scale. For example, AFFORD, along with other development actors, engage local stakeholders via the MADE West Africa project in Ghana. Another example of sustainable local engagement is One District-One Factory which aims to increase the economic potential of several districts in Ghana by giving priority to local industries and expertise.
Diaspora participation in the design of new tools is key
Diaspora stakeholders have a strong desire to be involved in the design, implementation, and post-implementation phases of TPs. Their engagement is a necessary step in fostering ownership of the process and mobilising diaspora networks to increase the impact of TPs. More concrete examples include drawing upon diaspora expertise in advisory committees or involving diaspora in discussions around the development of skills profiles that match visa schemes. In this regard, Enabel is including diaspora stakeholders in the development of a thematic portfolio on social protection in Central Africa to promote inter-regional mobility.
All the points touched upon in the discussion indicate that effective implementation of TPs depends on the capacity of countries of origin and destination to mobilise different segments of diaspora stakeholders – amongst others – in a sustainable way. Making the work of diasporas more visible, building upon their expertise and their desire to deploy their intellectual and social capital to develop heritage and host countries is key.
For a more in depth analysis of the potential for diaspora in implementing the Talent Partnerships, read the full case study or the abridged version comprising the executive summary and recommendations.
Words: Oumou Diallo & Dr Fanny Tittel-Mosser