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From Highly Skilled to Low Skilled: Revisiting the Deskilling of Migrant Labor

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  • Siar, Sheila V.
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    Abstract

    Traditional immigration countries such as United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand give preference to migrants with higher education, skills, and professional training that they can transfer to their countries. However, it is not unusual for migrant professionals, especially those from less developed countries, to experience 'deskilling' or occupational downward mobility. Though admitted as professionals based on the immigration policies of the destination countries, many of them are relegated to lower status and lower paying jobs, owing to the nonrecognition of their foreign credentials and the bias for education acquired in the host country or in academic institutions in developed countries, local experience, cultural know-how, and English proficiency. Their foreign credentials and skills often fail to provide the expected occupational rewards and professional development gains which have been a significant part of their motivation to migrate overseas, especially to more developed countries. Deskilling may be viewed in several ways: as a host country`s way of filling up labor scarcities in the secondary market by exploiting cheap enclave labor, as a transitional phase for migrants to adjust to the 'standards' of the host country, or as a form of institutionalized discrimination. This paper reviews the deskilling phenomenon to highlight its deleterious effects on migrants` welfare. Some theoretical explanations of deskilling are also examined. Examples of deskilling experiences of different migrant groups show that it is a complex phenomenon that demonstrates the interplay of race, ethnicity, and gender.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Philippine Institute for Development Studies in its series Discussion Papers with number DP 2013-30.

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    Length: 20
    Date of creation: 2013
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:phd:dpaper:dp_2013-30

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    Keywords: skilled migration; migrant labor; deskilling; job devaluation; brain waste;

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    1. David Card, 2005. "Is the New Immigration Really so Bad?," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, Royal Economic Society, vol. 115(507), pages F300-F323, November.
    2. Picot, Garnett & Sweetman, Arthur, 2005. "The Deteriorating Economic Welfare of Immigrants and Possible Causes: Update 2005," Analytical Studies Branch Research Paper Series 2005262e, Statistics Canada, Analytical Studies Branch.
    3. Philip Kelly & Tom Lusis, 2006. "Migration and the transnational habitus: evidence from Canada and the Philippines," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 38(5), pages 831-847, May.
    4. Chiswick, Barry R, 1978. "The Effect of Americanization on the Earnings of Foreign-born Men," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 86(5), pages 897-921, October.
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