The view challenges wave of antagonism toward new arrivals 19th May, 2011: Experts feel migrant workers are the need of the hour for the rich nations.
In a two-day conference at London’s Chatham House on managing graying economies, immigration was a recurring theme for speakers from the United States, Europe and Japan.
The experts said affluent nations need migrant workers to offer and care for their swiftly growing old populations. The views in fact challenged a wave of antagonism toward new arrivals driven by the impact of the economic slump.
It was pointed out that European Union was expected to face shortage of IT workers and health professionals in coming years.
In Europe, opposition towards foreign workers and asylum seekers has grown in the last few years because of their apparent stress on limited jobs and public services.
The experts said closing doors to young migrants would be thoughtless action as their taxes hold up a rising number of pensioners in developed countries who are living longer.
Senior policy analyst at the European Union’s executive arm, Philippe Legrain, said the young migrants educated overseas are generally net contributors to public finances.
Legrain, the author of "Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them," said the requirement for migrants would expand because many of them work in health and social care.
He added that the best ever growing area of job growth in Europe was not in high tech but in care for the elderly.
Laszlo Andor, a member of the European Commission, said migration remained an important source to revitalise the age profile of the European work force. It could also help bridge predictable overall labor shortages in the long run.
The European Union was expected to lack between 384,000 and 700,000 IT workers by 2015 and between 1 million and 2 million health professionals by 2020. He asserted that it was highly unlikely that all these resources would be found within the European Union.
It was also highlighted, that a European Commission demographics report, suggested last month that the fertility rates in the European Union remained too low to protect pensions for all EU citizens.
Such trends, combined with record budget shortfall, have already forced governments across Europe to raise retirement ages, despite widespread protests, and many countries, including the United States, are eyeing pension reforms.
Without such changes, by 2060 the number of people in work for every retired person in the EU is expected to drop from the current level of four to just two, a 2010 report by the European Commission found.