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Oct. 16, 2018

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Geography and Environmental Studies; Global Governance Program, Balsillie School of International Affairs

This paper, “Labour market regulation as global social policy: The case of nursing labour markets in Oman,” examines global social policy formation in the area of skilled nurse migration, with a focus on the Gulf Arab region. It links my research interests in the global mobility of trained nurses with that of Crystal Ennis, an expert on the political economy of the Gulf region. The paper explored how labour markets in the area of nursing are created through the interaction of policies from immigrant sending (Philippines) and receiving (Oman) nations. We examined the complexity of the Omani nursing labour market and argue that labour market policy can be comprehended as a form of global social policy formation. While sovereign decision making can theoretically dictate what happens within the borders of a single state, the messy reality of gendered labour market complexity in the case of nursing  (under conditions of patriarchy, global capitalism, and ongoing skilled health worker export), effectively results in the production of forms of global social policy. Understanding this reality offers a new perspective of the spheres of influence and realms of authority involved in managing skilled labour markets and migration under conditions of globalization, and a more fulsome recognition of how social policy and economic transformation occur and avenues where it can be potentially transformed.

Crystal Ennis completed her doctoral studies in the Global Governance Program at the Balsillie School in 2013 and is currently a lecturer at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. The most surprising aspect of the project was how far social policy making has become transnational in the case of Oman’s labour market. Dr. Ennis conducted some interviews in Oman with officials from the Philippines, and the degree of interaction between the ambassadors of many of the migrant sending countries posted in Oman was surprising.

After people read this article, I hope that they will remember that skilled migration is an important global social policy issue, and that countries that rely on skilled immigrant labour are increasingly engaging with the nations from which they attract migrants in interesting ways. We need to understand the nature of these interactions in order to advance and protect the rights of migrant workers. 

We hope other researchers will be inspired by this analysis and migrants’ rights advocates and sending countries will find the argument useful for their work in protecting and advancing the rights of migrant workers.

The next step in this research area will be to attend a workshop organized by Dr. Ennis in Leiden, Netherlands on multinational governance of labour migration the workshop. I will present a paper on India’s policy of control over the migration of Indian nurses to the Gulf nations.

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