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Improving the mechanisms to attract and employ foreign workers in the Russian Federation

Priority areas of development: state and public administration
2013
Department: Institute for Social Development Studies
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Object of research: Migration policy in the RF and foreign countries.

Goal of research: The elaboration of recommendations to realize a differentiated approach to attracting and employing foreign workers in the Russian Federation

Empirical data base: The information database for the main tendencies of labour migration in Russia was extracted from Federal Migration Service data, Rostat (Censuses) data, Ministry of Labour data, as well as information from countries that are the main migration donors and results of migrants’ surveys. For the internal labour migration analysis the authors, for the first time in Russian academic practice, used results of the Labour Force Survey.

The main tendencies of labour migration will still be connected with demographic changes expressed in unbalanced population growth in different parts of the world, ageing and the decrease of potential workers in developed countries. This phenomena will lead to many problems that cannot be solved purely by means of labour productivity and growing investments in human capital. Migration processes in Russia as well as in other countries with low fertility have become one of the main factors of social-demographic and economic development; they have become an inherent element of the labour market. European and South-East Asian countries can hardly keep the high economic growth rates without encouraging migration to compensate for population (or some age groups) shrinkage.

This research focuses on labour migration tendencies and the experience of developed countries in migration policy reforms, taking into account the demand of national economies for foreign workers in an age of globalization. Recent changes in labour migration management refer to improving selectivity, first of all by means of broadening the channels for attracting highly-skilled specialists.  Nowadays the procedure of getting work permits issued more often depends on the list of deficit and high-demand occupations; the procedure for moving specialists’ within companies has been simplified; labour migration without preliminary working contracts has become widespread; the conditions for entering local labour markets for international students are easier. In most developed countries, except USA and Southern Europe, the demand for foreign unskilled workers is growing. However the number of those kind of migrants is strictly limited to protect the national labour market. In this paper we make a classification and a short description of the selection system for migrants used in developed countries.

Simultaneously in the research the authors shed light on the problems of applying international migration policy experience to Russia, due to the history of the country and contemporary social-economic situation. The Immigration policy of the Russian Federation currently has different political, institutional, social-economic and humanitarian restrictions.

In Russia the scale of labour migration is defined not only by the number of foreigners, who received work permits, but also by the greater number of migrants without any documents. According to the estimations of FMS management and experts, annually from 3 to 5 mln. foreign citizens work without official permission in Russia. The economic consequences of this type of migration have still not been fully evaluated, that is why we face ineffectual legislation within the framework of the Migration policy concept 2025 and the plan for how this Concept will be realized.

Nowadays in Russia there are 3 types of approvals defining the major channels of labour migration: 1) general work permits within the annual quota and migrants beyond quota within the list of “qualified specialists”; 2) high-skilled specialists beyond the quota, 3) licenses for working for individuals. There is also a certain channel for labour migration from the Custom union countries. There is some distribution between the main flows of legal labour migration, for example, the share of workers hired by means of licenses is growing. Moreover this tendency is deemed to be more robust, at least the Russian President concentrated on it in his Message to the Federal Assembly in 2013.

This research investigates labour migration flows by countries of origin and the social-demographic characteristics of migrants. It analyses the regional peculiarities of flows, the main centers of gravity, the balance of Russian and foreign labour migrants flows, specific features of their professional structure. This part of the research is published in “Demoscope weekly” journal in 2013.

The information database for the main tendencies of labour migration in Russia was extracted from Federal Migration Service data, Rostat (Censuses) data, Ministry of Labour data, as well as information from the countries that are the main migration donors and results of migrants’ surveys. For the internal labour migration analysis the authors firstly in Russian academic practice used the results of the Labour Force Survey.

The analysis of Russian schemes of international workers employment shows that the recent quota system and the system of indicating the demand for foreign labour either in Russia as a whole or in regions has serious disadvantages. Among these are limitations on quotas for small business, overly strict terms on the timing of recruitment campaigns and the impossibility of planning the demand for labour in advance. There are also problems with transparency of the quota size, unfair and corrupted mediators who “sell” quotas. Despite claims that this protects the national labour market in reality the quota system derives from administrative but not economic logic; that is why it works successfully simultaneously with the massive illegal foreign labour market.

FMS is working on the key questions of how to improve the instruments for the main intake and employment of foreign workers within the 1st stage (2012-2015) of the Migration policy conception 2025. The researchers analyse carefully and criticize the FMS offers concerning the improvement of the procedure of indicating the demand for foreign workers and their employment. For example the authors dispute with the temporary permission offered by the FMS to stay for the period of 90 days and less for those who found short term work. There is also a debatable idea about the system of limitations for constraining the flow of foreign workers in certain industries, generally due to the lack of such limits and impossibility of their calculation. The limitations should be based on estimations of the demand for labour both Russian and foreign in certain industries, but there is no data or methodology for such estimations. 

The main conditions of finding the optimal foreign labour force demand are an investigation of the Russian labour market and a definition of the main trends and prospects of its development based on reliable statistics. For the successful realization of this task the following steps should be taken: 1) to improve the quality of the data acquisition and processing from administrative sources; 2) to organize regular sample surveys concerning migration and the economic demands for labour, to include and extend the questions about migration in the Households’ budgets survey and the Labour Force Survey.

The research also lists the most up-to-date measures for improving the mechanisms for the intake and employment of foreign workers in Russia, among them we could mention: for the migrants to receive approvals before they move to Russia; time constraints for visa-free stay; increase in terms of work contracts; improving programmes to attract high-skilled specialists; usage of deficit occupations lists based on vacancies monitoring, labour market and educational system projections, employers surveys; development of special professional programmes

The Appendix contains additional materials regarding countries that either significantly changed their migration policy or were not so well known for their migration policy schemes in Russia like Austria, Belgium, the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden.

There is also a section in the Appendix with methodology and the examples of the forecasts showing the potential role of migration in compensating economically for active population decline within the period until 2030. There is also material on the problem demographics in 163 pages, 5 parts, 8 pictures, 14 tables, 63 sources.

Publications:


Мкртчян Н. В., Денисенко М. Б., Чудиновских О. С. Временные трудовые мигранты в России // Демоскоп Weekly. 2013. № 579-580