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14 Aug 2020

Covid-19 and the transformation of migration and mobility globally - “Disposable” and “essential”: Changes in the global hierarchies of migrant workers after COVID-19

In this paper, Anna Triandafyllidou and Lucia Nalbandian explore how the pandemic has inverted previous hierarchies of more and less desired migrant workers. The paper considers two groups of migrant workers – previously in-demand high-skilled migrant workers and low-skilled temporary migrant workers in sectors now deemed essential – and asks two key questions: 1.) what are innovative ways to neutralize the impact of border closures for highly skilled migrants, and 2.) how can we learn from the pandemic and improve the way that migrant recruitment and employment in agriculture is governed?

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.