The total number of migrants from the Americas living in countries other than their place of birth/country of citizenship is about 62 million people, most of them living in North America. In Latin America and the Caribbean the intra-regional immigrant population is about 9 million. 30 per cent to 50 per cent of these migrants are economically active. The main migratory flows occur from LAC to the United States (especially from Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean) and Europe. The reasons for migration are mostly economic but linked to leaving behind a situation of violence and extreme poverty.

Labour markets in the region of Americas, separated by national borders, have historically facilitated the development of cross-border networks, which together focus on the exchange of labour, under arrangements not covered by the national governments; this exchange has typically been complementary to the local workforce. According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (2007), the largest group of workers in Central America comprised those of Salvadoran origin (22.5 per cent), followed by Nicaraguans (19.7 per cent).

A growth in the number of mobile workers in destination countries has been noted recently in South America too. Apart from Argentina, a traditional destination for many migrants from neighbouring countries, there are migratory flows towards Chile, Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay, for example. Several countries in the region have recently changed immigration laws altering their focus from mere security to the human and labour rights of migrants. Recently, free movement of workers agreements in integration zones have been concluded, such as in the Mercosur region and a residence agreement for countries of the Andean Community.

Public employment services are in general redefining their methods and working tools to operate in an evolving world of work. Helping migrants and refugees integrate into the labour market is a crucial part of it. The world of work is rapidly changing and the skills of the workforce must not only adapt to new technologies and changing forms of work organization but to mobility of skills and vulnerabilities of workers due to migration too.

Description of the initiative

This project has as the main objective to strengthen skills of mobility advisors (staff members that will deal with labour market integration of migrants and refugees) in national public employment services and through a train-the-trainer scheme empower to render own in-house trainings for further staff development in the future. To accomplish this, a map of competences for mobility advisors has been elaborated and different available training material from former training initiatives are being compiled and systematised.  It is crucial to review the experience gained so far, the good practices and challenges encountered by public employment services in managing labour mobility in the region. The project also offers a unique opportunity to capitalize work done by international organizations like the ILO and its partners and ensure sustainability of capacities developed through technical cooperation projects. The structured, existing material will then be complemented with additional, tailor-made material meeting the needs of the Americas.

In a nutshell the needs addressed are:

  • Institutional capacity building of public employment services for the orderly management of labour migration in the Americas
  • Respond to employers and workers with skills demands for job vacancies that are difficult to fill and for information and counselling services for geographical labour mobility.
  • Creation of a network of mobility advisers and trainers in the region with the certified skills to be facilitators on trainings for labour mobility management.

The Project will offer countries of origin and destination online training tools that will help them establish or strengthen their own systems to manage skills mobility. It will take into account the context, priorities and resources of the different public employment services.

Implementation of the initiative

After assessing the existing tools used for advising mobile workers in the region, the modular trainings are structured with the up-to-date material already there and complementary new modules. The different learning modules of the project will be tailor-made for public employment services that either want to create mobility advisor competences in their existing or newly recruited staff from scratch or for those that have some migration management structure in place already and want to elaborate on specific skills sets, like dealing with the specifics for refugee care, the networking skills to get in better touch with countries of origin or destination for their migrant clients.

On a long-term basis the structure of this project will serve to transfer training modules for mobility advisers to other world regions where the need for building or strengthening the skills of public employment services staff has been identified such as South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

This train-the-trainer approach will ensure that a network of mobility advisors will/can be trained later on. Developing online modules will help national public employment services to better cope with the high level of staff turn-over existing in some countries and also will reduce costs when expanding training across their network of employment offices.

The learning materials will be designed by a team of consultants/experts using a methodology that will be supervised by a director’s committee. This committee will consist of representatives of ILO, WAPES and EURES. Prior to the design of the training materials, the existing materials from previous activities will be screened alongside a survey of the public employment services. This survey will allow to better assess the structure and services concerning labour mobility of the public employment services in question.

Since these trainings will be delivered online, it will follow the recent trends in provision of virtual training courses including discussion of the participants and peer review.

Among crucial competencies of mobility advisers there is a need for promoting mobility towards employers, because without concrete job vacancies and a collaborative attitude of enterprises, there is a lower chance of decent work and sustainable employment. Therefore, it is important to include modules for working with employers.

All training modules should include concrete instruments for information placement and recruitment besides the theory and be focused on gender-equality as a cross-cutting topic.

Resources dedicated to the initiative

Financial sources

Project funded by WAPES and the ILO

Human resources dedicated to the initiative

Three full-time consultants and part-time technical staff


The concrete deliverables of the project are:

Level 1 – Skills Profile

  • Purpose: Elaborating a map of competences for labour mobility advisor
  • Main Outcomes: A skills profile/map of competences for mobility advisors and trainers in public employment services including the skills dimensions: “client skills”, “expert skills” and “networking skills” for the mobility adviser and “leading and activating skills”, “analysis and evaluation skills“ and “online skills” for the trainers.

Level 2 – Inventory

  • Purpose: Systematising existing training materials on the capacity building of mobility advise by PES
  • Main Outcomes: Overview of existing training materials in the field of labour mobility training for public employment services usable in the Americas region.

Level 3 – Training Modules

  • Purpose: Designing generic online learning modules master trainers and mobility advisors
  • Main Outcomes:
    • Labour market information: identifying skills needs, highlighting bottlenecks in labour markets, striving for balance between labour markets between countries in the region.
    • Information and advice for job-seekers and employers on labour mobility and the origin and destination countries involved.
    • Management of bilateral agreements on transnational and cross border mobility and the role of public employment services, private employment providers and social partners in it.

The following transversal skills will be included in the learning modules:

  1. Planning and organization: project management, geographical labour mobility, labour markets, social security and taxes;
  2. Teamwork: multiculturalism
  3. Leadership; Intermediation and placement: tools and strategies, institutional resources for geographical labour mobility, key competences to facilitate geographical labour mobility of workers,
  4. Cross-institutional coordination between workforce origin and host countries
  5. Communication: cross-institutional information and communication tools
  6. Customer focus: services for employers and services for workers
  7. Quality focus: achieving excellence in public administration, coaching at employment services, ethics and good practice, gender equality
  8. Focus on decent work: promoting a higher quality and quantity of jobs for inclusive growth and a balanced mobility taking bottlenecks and brain drain into account

Critical success factors

  • grassroots level allows quick decisions and flexible trainings
  • bottom-up approach prepared the field for high-level policy agreements on orderly labour migration, e.g. between Mexico and Guatemala
  • sustainable results through online-tools and train-the-trainer scheme

Biggest obstacles

  • general vulnerable capacity within the structure of a public employment service
  • migration and refugee management is often institutionally far away from employment and labour
  • the social perception and political hesitation of the topic is difficult