People are becoming increasingly mobile within and across borders in response to the social and economic challenges created by globalization, said a report released by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Tuesday.
Demands for increased efficiency in production as a response to fierce global competition has meant that workers, independent of their geographical location, are increasingly living in an inter-connected world of work, resulting in greater labor mobility, said the World Migration Report 2008.
The report said search for employment was at the heart of most human movement in the 21st century.
There are more than 200 million international migrants in the world today, two and a half times the number in 1965, and most states simultaneously being countries of migrant origin, transit and destination, it said.
Pressures for labor mobility are set to increase in a world where industrialized countries, already competing for highly skilled migrants, are also in short-supply of much needed, though often less accepted, low and semi-skilled workers, according to the report.
This has been largely due to an increasing scarcity of local workers available or willing to engage in low or semi-skilled employment such as in agriculture, construction, hospitality or domestic care.
Within the next 50 years, these countries will experience even greater shortages as birth rates fall and the working population age, leaving twice as many people over 60 years of age than children, IOM said.
The current supply imbalance in the global labor force is also expected to worsen, according to the report.
Demographic trends show that the working age population of Africa alone is expected to triple from 408 million in 2005 to 1.12 billion in 2050 while one study claims that China and India are projected to account for 40 percent of the global workforce by 2030.
The working age population in developed countries, however, is expected to decline by 23 percent by 2050 without immigration.
According to the report, the priority for any country and for the global economy as a whole is to have planned and predictable ways of matching labor demand with supply in safe, legal and humane ways.
Crucially, such an approach would ensure the fundamental human security of migrants through their better economic and social protection in work and in life.
This protection will not only encompass migrants but automatically their families, whether they have migrated too or remained behind.