Skills Transfer and Development in the Western Balkans


Bosnia and Herzegovina - A two-day regional seminar to be held in Sarajevo today and tomorrow will discuss best practices and lessons learned from skills transfer and temporary return programmes that allow migrants or diaspora members to contribute to the development of their countries of origin through knowledge and skills acquired abroad.

Participants, who will include representatives of Western Balkan institutions, selected EU Member States, and international experts, will analyse case studies of skills transfer programmes, including Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA), Temporary Return of Qualified Nationals (TRQN), and the Temporary and Virtual Return component of the Migration for Development in the Western Balkans (MIDWEB) programme.

They will discuss best practices and lessons learned, particularly in relation to the Western Balkans; identify strategies for governments in the region to develop and implement diaspora skills transfer  programmes adapted to the needs and  the current socio-economic and political situation in each country; integrate perspectives of diasporas, receiving communities and countries of origin and destination into a coherent framework; and consolidate information on the existing gaps in skills transfer programmes to inform future programming and policy formulation.

The Western Balkan region has seen massive outflows of qualified nationals towards more lucrative labour markets in Western Europe and North America. This “brain drain” has inevitably resulted in loss of skills and knowledge, depriving the region of much needed qualified human capital to push forward socio-economic transformation and to contribute towards the development of competitive, knowledge-based and open societies.

Harnessing the potential embedded in the human and social capital of their diaspora communities abroad remains a challenge for the Western Balkan governments. In some countries dedicated diaspora ministries or departments have been set up, and a number of programmes have been implemented, with assistance from the international community, to stimulate permanent and temporary return of qualified nationals and their skills. But further efforts are needed to fully understand and make the most of the resources generated through human mobility, for the benefit of the region.

The seminar is a closing event of the project “Migration for Development in the Western Balkans (MIDWEB)” managed by IOM, in partnership with the Migration, Asylum, Refugees Regional Initiative (MARRI), the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, and the Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies (WIIW).

The project is funded by the European Commission IPA 2009 Multi-beneficiary Programme 2, the IOM Development Fund, the Centre for International Migration and Development (CIM), and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection (BMASK) through priority area 9 of the Danube Strategy (Investing in People & Skills).  

For further information, please contact  

Magdalena Majkowska-Tomkin
IOM Budapest
Tel: +36 1 472 25 19