HORIZON EUROPE FRAMEWORK PROGRAMME┋Global Shortages and Skill Partnerships



Expected Outcome

Projects should contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:

  • Enhance EU migration governance by matching analyses of skills shortages in the EU and in non-EU countries.
  • Provide tools to decision-makers to navigate skill shortages in EU labour markets.
  • Present an overview of the trade-offs of filling shortages with migrant workforce vis-à-vis other alternatives such as education/local - and re upskilling/automation.


As the EU’s workforce grows older, there is increasing political attention on how to recruit workers with the right skills for a changing labour market. The EU has proposed to develop ‘Talent Partnerships’[1] with third countries of origin, in order to train and recruit workers from outside of the EU. This type of international partnership based on skills, is premised on the idea that in many sectors shortages are global, and thereby one can develop training centres at lower cost outside of the EU, training people which may then spend their skills both in the origin countries, as well as in the EU. Research has started to look at this promising principle finding interesting practices[2], yet attention is needed on a macro level to better understand causes and consequences of such shortages globally, in order to envisage scaling up such promising pilots and practices.

Firstly, research should focus on countries of destination, with a particular focus on the EU (at the national and regional level) in the context of an ageing population with a shrinking workforce and tax base. Proposals should focus on the shortage model that leads to recruitment of foreign workers through skill partnerships, and should assess their existence and their cause, with particular attention on how to define and measure them. This should shed light on the need to expand workforce by recruiting foreign labour, also by assessing viability and trade-offs of other alternatives. These could be, but are not limited to: raising wages, also considering incentives needed employers to do so vis-à-vis foreign worker recruitment; education and upskilling of local workforce, considering the possibility of matching supply and demand of labour depending on the sector and timeframe of the needs; automation, with a focus to investments and incentives needed to reach a level of automation of work in sectors which rely on migrant workforce. As such, proposals should assess causes and consequences of shortages in destination countries warranting the establishment of partnerships with third countries to recruit needed skills.

Proposals should then focus on third countries of origin, and go beyond single case studies keeping a macro and/or cross-case comparison perspective. Proposals should develop a way to evaluate labour markets and analyse matching needs and shortages compared to the EU. Proposals could combine labour market analyses with a focus on the education system and analyse structures in place for training people for those sectors in need, including spending attention on qualifications obtained in view of EU recognition, as well as on language skills as a factor for migrant integration. Proposals should also analyse the relation between investing in upskilling local workforce in view of recruiting a proportion of this, together with the creation of local human capital that could act as a driver for local development. This could be coupled with a survey in different countries with skilled (migrant) workers, in view of developing a database of microdata on the interaction of developing skills with local development processes. Proposals could take into account mobility patterns and retention initiatives as part of their analysis, as well as the ESCO classification[3]. Overall, such analyses should shed light on conditions which influence positively or negatively local development processes vis-à-vis foreign upskilling and recruitment, analysing conditions which lead domestic institutions to capitalise on the positive effects. Proposals may also include a historical perspective with comparisons with ‘guest worker’ programs of recruitment of foreign workers in the second half of the 20th century, to build on what has worked and what has not in the past. Proposals are encouraged to consider in their analyses in particular the pilot projects on legal migration carried out by the Mobility Partnership Facility[4], as well as other projects running in this area, inter alia the Flagship Technical Support topic[5], the European Training Foundation’s ‘Skills Lab’[6], THAMM project in North-Africa[7] and the MATCH project[8].

As such, proposals should consider both sides of ‘skill partnerships’ including the issues of brain drain and economic development of third countries, and assess the shortage model on which they are premised both in destination and origin countries, looking at the distribution of benefits for destination countries, origin countries and migrants themselves.

Proposals are encouraged to consider contributing to the Global Gateway Strategy by increasing scientific knowledge and transferring best practices among partner countries. In order to achieve the expected outcomes, international cooperation is strongly encouraged. Clustering and cooperation with other selected projects under this call and other relevant projects are strongly encouraged, especially with the beneficiaries of topic ‘HORIZON-CL2-2023-TRANSFORMATIONS-01-07: Tackling European skills and labour shortages’ to ensure complementarities wherever relevant.

[1] https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/FS_22_2656

[2] https://www.migrationpartnershipfacility.eu/labour-mobility

[3] https://esco.ec.europa.eu/en/classification

[4] https://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/policies/international-affairs/mobility-partnership-facility-mpf_en

[5] EU budget for the future

[6] https://www.etf.europa.eu/en/projects-campaigns/projects/skills-demand-analysis

[7] https://ec.europa.eu/trustfundforafrica/region/north-africa/regional/towards-holistic-approach-labour-migration-governance-and-labour_en

[8] https://belgium.iom.int/match

Application date
Humanities : Anthropology & Ethnology, History
Social sciences : Demography, Economy, Geography, Management and Public administration, International Relations, Political science, Pedagogic & Education Research, Sociology