Of the world’s nearly 200 million migrants, the ILO estimates that 90 million men and women were migrant workers in 2005 (ILO 2007) and the figure is steadily rising. While the numbers of international migrants from, and within, the Pacific are small in overall terms, the importance of labour mobility and its impact on societies and economies in many parts of the Pacific cannot be underestimated (Voigt-Graf 2007).
There are many different types of labour migration and mobility within the Pacific, including emigration or temporary movement of skilled professionals, short term seasonal work in Australia and New Zealand, and the movement of seafarers around the world. However, until recently, the theme of migration did not receive much attention in the policy space in the Pacific. In the last few years, a growing number of Pacific countries have began developing national labour migration policies or action plans to increase migration opportunities or the scale of remittances. This is a positive trend; however, national capacity to implement, monitor and evaluate policies still poses a challenge.
In particular, a well-functioning policy environment requires consistent and up-to-date labour migration statistics, something that is still missing in most parts of the Pacific. For example, in order to design policies to increase remittances, information on who migrates, where they go, for how long, and how much they send should form the foundation for basic analysis. Or another example, in order to monitor a policy intervention related to skilled migration, governments require statistics on the occupation, education and other characteristics of outgoing migrants.
This Guide aims to provide a case for better collection of data on international labour migration and outlines a number of recommendations for how governments can collect, produce, and analyse data on migration for the purpose of policy making. It also provides a framework for determining priorities and options for compiling labour migration statistics, including discussion on the on the use of surveys or administrative data.