With the restrictions on movement imposed by governments leading to severe labour market shocks and reductions in labour supply, one of the central policy challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has been how to protect and maintain essential economic activities and public services. In this paper, Bridget Anderson, Friedrich Poeschel and Martin Ruhs argue that concern for the resilience of essential services should drive a rethink of how the impacts of migrant workers are assessed and how labour migration and related public policies are designed. They integrate key insights from research on the role of migrant workers in addressing labour and skills shortages and the resilience of systems to suggest how considerations of systemic resilience can be built into analyses and policy debates about the effects and regulation of labour migration.
This paper is part of a series of short “think pieces” by IOM’s Migration Research and Publishing High-Level Advisers on the potential changes, impacts and implications for migration and mobility arising from COVID-19. Designed to spark thinking on policy and programmatic responses to COVID-19 as its impacts continue to emerge globally, the papers draw upon existing and new evidence and offer initial exploratory analysis and recommendations.