Migrant Worker Policies and Spillover Effects on Education and Employment in the GCC

11-13 July 2023

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have experienced significant immigration, with foreign-born (FB) children forming a twice-selected subset of migrants in the region. IPS Research Fellow Dr Bilesha Weeraratne highlighted that this diversity in classrooms, where national and FB students sit side-by-side has the potential to influence educational outcomes and future employment aspirations of national children. She made these remarks while delivering a presentation titled ‘Migrant Worker Policies and the Spillover Effects on Educational Outcomes and Employment Aspirations of National Children in the GCC’ at the workshop on ‘Recent Labour and Migration Reforms and Policies in the Gulf: Impact on Economies and Societies’, organised by Gulf Research Centre Cambridge.

Studies suggest that students tend to benefit when incoming students possess similar ability levels. However, the presence of high-ability FB students in the same classroom may have negative effects on national students. To harness the spillover effects of having FB children, Dr Weeraratne noted that GCC countries must carefully place them with national students. Balancing negative and positive peer effects is crucial to ensure the growth of both FB and national students.

To achieve this balance, aggressive measures are needed to improve the interests, capabilities, and likelihood of national children to complete tertiary education and pursue careers in science. A re-evaluation of job-related subsidies, support programmes, and guarantees for nationals is necessary to incentivise better educational outcomes and nurture the future pool of human capital.

GCC_Migrant Worker Policies and Spillover
GCC_Migrant Worker Policies and Spillover