On November 29th 2021, we were joined by the Country Director of HIAS Aruba Yiftach Millo, to hear about the Venezuelan Migration crisis and the work of HIAS. This was followed by a presentation of the International Research Project (IRP) 2020/21 of AEclipse by Femme van Houten & Idann Gidron. The event was topped off by a guest lecture of Prof. Dr. Olivier Marie on the Economics of Migration.
The International Research Project 2020/21
The International Research Project (IRP) is one of AEclipse’s flagship events. For 25 consecutive years, AEclipse has organized research projects to offer students the opportunity to apply the knowledge from their studies to pressing matters in developing countries and simultaneously contribute to the greater good.
This year’s IRP was guided by the research question: Where do we see opportunities for employment for the forcibly displaced Venezuelan population? Out of the 110,000 inhabitants of Aruba, approximately 17,000 are refugees from Venezuela. However, they are not officially recognized as refugees. In theory they are able to apply for asylum and go through the process of determining whether they are a refugee or not, however in practice most of these applications are being rejected. Thus, most Venezuelans in Aruba are left without protection, legal employment chances ,and access to basic health services.
In order to gain more insights and work on a solution to this problem, the IRP team partnered with HIAS Aruba.
HIAS is an NGO that offers various programs around the world to protect refugees who were forced to leave their country and helps them integrate into their new homeland in safety and dignity. They have been working with refugees for more than 139 years according to their vision of a world “in which refugees find welcome, safety and freedom”.
IRP 2020/21 – Field Research
In order to create a thorough labor market assessment on the island, the group was divided into three different teams. One group focused on the labor market assessment itself, while the other two groups took the social and economic, as well as the legal aspects into account in order to support the results of the labor market assessment. To gain more insights on the situation on the island, AEclipse sent five delegates to Aruba in order to conduct field research. The field research was done in collaboration with HIAS Aruba and the University of Aruba. As part of the research, five different studies were conducted:
1. Interview Data: interviews of 60-90 minutes with 20 key industry leaders of the private sectors and organizations from the public sector
2. Skills survey: filled out by 534 Venezuelan respondents – the survey focused on skills, education and past employment
3. Focus Groups: group interview with two groups of four Venezuelan migrants, with a focus on the perception of the legal system
4. Q-Study: 20 Arubans were asked to rank statements from -5 (strongly disagree) to +5 (strongly agree) in order to identify the public opinion about the topic of Venezuelan migrants
5. Business survey: 37 companies in Aruba were surveyed in order to confirm the insights gained by talking to the industry, the main focus was on the impact of COVID-19, the skill requirements within companies, and employment opportunities
IRP 2020/21 – Findings
The findings of this research will be used for recommendations for stakeholders, such as the government of Aruba, the private sector, and HIAS. The following five main recommendations were developed in order to help with the Venezuelan migration crisis:
1. Registration of forcibly displaced Venezuelans:
This would allow for a win-win situation for both the Aruban government and the Venezuelan refugees. Once the refugees are registered, they can work legally and help bridge the gap between labor demand and labor supply in Aruba. In addition, this would lead to more fair competition, less exploitation of the workers as well as income for the government through income taxes. Furthermore, the refugees would not have to live in constant fear of being exposed to a policy of detention and deportation.
2. Promotion of Arubans and migrant population already on the island:
This entails integrating forcibly displaced Venezuelans into the labor market before filling vacant jobs with people from other places.
3. Provision of English and vocational training:
Venezuelan migrants have a high willingness to work during weekends, evenings and holidays amongst, especially compared to Arubans. Overcoming language barriers and skill gaps would allow for Venezuelans to fulfill many jobs, especially in the tourism industry.
4. Reforming the labor market – flexible labor laws:
At the moment the laws of the labor market in Aruba are very strict, more flexible labor laws would allow for easier hiring.
5. Promotion of sympathy towards the Venezuelan population:
There is a lot of xenophobia in Aruba, especially towards Venezuelans. This would need to be overcome in order to solve the migration crisis.
Are you interested to hear more?
In case you missed the event, or you want to know more about last year’s International Research Project, you can find the recording of the presentation on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChyIiZDScRbMclh8ccQaYuA
Furthermore, the application period for student consultants for the next International Research Project is about to open! Next year’s International Research Project will focus on Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Mozambique. The goal is to attract and stimulate environmentally innovative Dutch companies to invest in these specific African countries. So, if you are interested in gaining valuable experience in the field of Policy/Development Economics and Environmental Business, make sure to sign up and follow us on our socials to not miss out on any updates!