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THEMIS: Highly skilled migrants and the European mobility industry

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Duration: 0:13:55 | Added: 23 Jan 2014
Saara Koikkalainen presents her paper 'Highly skilled migrants and the European mobility industry' in Parallel session IV(D) of the conference Examining Migration Dynamics: Networks and Beyond, 24-26 Sept 2013

The paper examines intra-European mobility and migrant agency from the perspective of highly skilled migrants, namely Finns working abroad in other EU15 countries. It is based on a web survey titled Working in Europe (n=364) conducted in 2008, its continuation in 2010 (n=194) and 18 migrant interviews (2011). The paper draws on Karen O'Reilly's (2012) practice theory for international migration. It focuses on understanding highly skilled mobility in Europe through an analysis of the external, macro level structures that ease or impede mobility, as well as the internal, micro level structures that affect the mobility behaviour of this particular migrant group. At the meso level the paper introduces a novel concept of mobility industry, which helps facilitate intra-European mobility. The term migration industry has been used to refer to the various agents and organizations helping migrants, remittance companies, as well as human smugglers who manage irregular migration. I argue that this term can also be useful in understanding different forms of intra-European mobility. In the European context permanent migration is not the only or perhaps even the main form of transnational movement across borders, so mobility industry is a more fitting term to be used. It can be roughly divided into two categories: firstly the non-commercial institutions and agencies that provide information and facilitate the mobility of students, trainees and academics, as well as job-seekers, and secondly the commercial relocation and headhunting agencies, consultants and job search portals whose business it is to facilitate the mobility of workers and professionals. The paper concludes that the paths that lead abroad from Finland are influenced by both external structures and individual migrant agency, as voluntary, intra-European migrants can choose their destinations according to their life projects focusing on work and careers, but also on quality of life and adventure.

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