The Image of Abroad in the View of Highly Skilled Migrants

Natalija Valavičienė


Highly skilled employees are the most valuable part of the migrant labour force. This value is determined by employee’s professional competence, enabling them to contribute significantly to the destination and origin countries’ economic and social development. Global competition for states’ leadership, innovations, economic growth, the rapid and accelerating progress, unsatisfactory demographic processes and along the growing demand for highly skilled labour force impel rich countries to apply international recruitment strategies to attract and hire highly skilled foreign professionals. But what does the very term “abroad” mean to the highly skilled migrants? The research aim is to present the “abroad” image, its variability in time and space and its role in choosing the state of destination. The research object is an image of abroad, created and recreated by highly skilled migrants. This article also analyzes the distinctions between highly skilled migrants and other migrants’ groups, provides the origin of selective immigration programmes, and based on semistructured interviews with highly skilled migrants in natural sciences and technology fields presents the image of “abroad”, its different contents and meanings, depending on time, space and personal future experience.
The article reveals that high professional qualification is a fundamental characteristic that distinguishes highly skilled workers from other migrant groups and determines their particular situation before and after migration. Other specific features flow from this fundamental characteristic. These are the high positioning of highly skilled migrants in the hierarchy of jobs, legal employment and social guarantees, less dependent on strong social ties and higher values of weak social ties, a high degree of integration in the country of destination and, therefore, more favourable attitudes of the local population toward highly skilled migrants. The significance of the image of abroad occurs through its power to shape the highly skilled professional’s general approach of abroad, to concentrate “abroad” only to a certain country or region of the world and to shape attitudes toward personal migration and potential country of destination.


highly skilled migrants; image of abroad; immigration programmes

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