Immigration has turned into a politically sensitive issue in almost all of the economically developed receiving states. Particularly in Europe, this situation has led to the replacement of post-war laissez-faire approaches to labour migration with tighter policies in a number of countries, influencing also the entry conditions of high-skilled migrants from the third countries in a restrictive manner despite existing labour market demands in these high-income countries for employing high-skilled workers writes Elif Cetin in MANAGING SKILLED ECONOMIC MIGRATION IN EUROPE: DEBATES AND POLICY OUTCOMES.
This paper analyses how rhetorical references made by the key political parties in the UK and Italy to high-skilled migration during election campaigns inform policy-making in this specific area of migration management. Lowell’s highly-skilled migrant definition is adopted which follows that ‘highly skilled persons are in high-value-added and high productivity jobs that are essential to our knowledge society’. Building on the literature which underlines the role of ideas and discourse while offering an explanation of policy formation processes and policy changes the paper examines how high-skilled migration is dominantly addressed in electoral campaigns in Europe and assesses how different rhetorical categories are accommodated within policies regulating the influx of highly skilled migrants.
The UK and Italy are singled out as case studies and the comparison is made by concentrating on the years 1996-2010. It addresses the following questions:
How is the dominant electoral positioning on high-skilled immigration in Britain and Italy?
How do these electoral positions inform the actual design of policies that apply to high-skilled migration?
What does such an evaluation of policy debates and outcomes reveal about shifting policies in the domain of skilled economic migration?