Highly Skilled Migration in the 21th Century

Dr Jon Mulholland and Prof Louise Ryanorganised a two-day international conference in May 2012 on the theme of highly skilled migration, attended by over 100 delegates. The conference arose from their ongoing ESRC-funded project on highly skilled French migrants in London’s financial and business sector.

The conference brought together scholars from around the world, including Japan, North American, New Zealand, Poland, Finland, France, Germany and India.

The plenary speakers were Professor Louise Ackers, of the University of Liverpool, who spoke on the ways in which internationalisation has become a metric of success in research careers; Professor Jonathan Beaverstock, University of Nottingham, on the significance of global talent in enhancing the City of London’s competitive status; Professor Adrian Favell, Sciences Po, Paris on the impact upon cosmopolitanism of a resurgent nationalisation, and Professor Eleonore Kofman, Middlesex University, on gendered aspect of highly skilled migration.

Dr Muholland and Prof Ryan presented preliminary findings from their research project looking at the ways in which highly skilled French migrants access business and friendship networks in London. While London’s financial environment facilitated business networking, developing deep and enduring friendships was more challenging and frequently encountered unanticipated obstacles. This research highlights the importance of distinguishing the qualitative differences in social relationships across a range of migrant social networks.

In other sessions, John Salt and Peter Wood reflected upon the impact of the recession on international corporate mobility.

As well as featuring leading scholars, the conference also provided a platform for many young researchers to present innovative research. The delegates explored the contribution of highly skilled migrants to various economies around the world, and their experiences in places as diverse as Singapore, Geneva and Doha. There was also discussion of the various policy regimes and the attempts to control and manage migration in countries such as Canada, Israel and Denmark.

The conference also included a reception to launch six recently published books by colleagues in Middlesex’s Social Policy Research Centre and Department of Criminology and Sociology.