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North Africa – Mainstreaming and strengthening labour migration into national labour market information systems

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2019 - Present

Type of practice

Measuring/Data collection

Latest content


Sub Regions:


Recognizing the need for comparable data on labour migration to design evidence-based policies, the International Conference of Labour Statisticians (ICLS) adopted new Guidelines concerning statistics of international labour migration in 2018. Putting these guidelines into practice, the ILO has, since 2019, been supporting national statistical offices in North Africa to strengthen data collection efforts, harmonize statistical and administrative data sources, mainstream labour migration into labour market information systems and contribute to broader and better dissemination and use of labour migration data for policy-making.

The objective is to provide an improved information base on the migration and mobility process, socio-demographic characteristics and conditions of work of migrant workers. In 2019, the ILO supported assessments on labour migration statistics in Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia assessing actors involved in data collection as well as available statistical and administrative sources. In November 2019, a first regional conference, including Algeria and Libya, was organized to present the first three assessments and reflect on ways forward at the sub-regional level. The assessment on Egypt followed in 2021. Since 2020, the ILO has been supporting the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) to conduct an assessment on available labour migration statistics, that will be followed by a second analytical report of the available national data. Building on these assessments, activities at national level were conducted to strengthen labour market information systems on labour migration and ensure coherence with the larger labour market information systems. In Tunisia, a MoU was signed in October 2021 between the National Council on Statistics (CNS) and the National Observatory on Migration (ONM) to establish a working group on migration statistics (GTSM). In Morocco, the ILO has been supporting the national statistical office HCP since 2021 to spearhead the development of a national integrated labour migration information system.

Gender will be mainstreamed when strengthening the four components of labour market (LM) information systems. First, when collecting data and information, the importance of collecting gender-disaggregated data will be raised and it will be encouraged to include questions targeting women and their needs and challenges in existing surveys. Second, when supporting a repository of LM information, attention should be given to gender and differences in labour market situations when designing such a system. Third, analytical tools should pay attention to gender and finally, users of LM information should be trained to take gender-sensitive information into account. 


Main Implementing Organization(s)

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Detailed Information

International Labour Organization (ILO)

Partner/Donor Organizations

National statistical offices -NSOs- in Egypt - CAPMAS
Mauritania - ANSADE
Morocco - HCP
Tunisia: INS; ONM- National Observatory on Migration; CNS - National Council on Statistics

Benefit and Impact

Achievements at national level to strengthen data collection and information systems to support evidence-based labour migration policies:
• Tunisia: In December 2021, a national kick-off of the working group on migration statistics (GTSM) took place and since then, regular meetings are held at the CNS with the support of the ILO. This constitutes a key achievement that institutionalizes the exchange of administrative and statistical data on international migration.
• Morocco: Building on a MoU signed between the national statistical office HCP and the ILO in 2019, HCP with the support of the ILO organized a workshop in February 2022 on how to support a national harmonized and integrated labour migration information system with the participation of main data producers and users. This marked an important step to improve and harmonize data collection tools and concepts. An action plan, validated by all national stakeholders, specifying the timeframe and modalities of data sharing, is expected for June 2022. As a next step, the migration module of the employment survey will be strengthened.
• Mauritania: Building on the assessment on labour migration statistics, the ILO is supporting the national statistical office ANSADE to review the migration module as well as the economic characteristics section of the census that is to take place in 2023 so that the collection of labour migration data is improved.
• Egypt: An assessment on available labour migration sources as well as institutions involved in the collection and analysis of data was completed in 2021 and is pending validation; in parallel, a MoU is to be signed between the ILO and CAPMAS to strengthen the national labour market information system, including on labour migration. In addition, a webinar presenting the ICLS 2018 Guidelines was held for CAPMAS and other national institutions in December 2021 and the Guidelines have been translated into Arabic.

Key Lessons

• Capacity-building is necessary at different levels and needs to be built in the overall approach:
o First, in terms of international statistical standards and in particular, the 2018 ICLS guidelines and the importance of population censuses;
o Second, on the ILO recommended migration module in Labour Force Surveys, in terms of its content, challenges, sampling specificities and collection methodology;
o Third, in terms of the possibilities and requirements for harmonization between statistical and administrative data;
o Fourth, on the mainstreaming of labour migration into broader labour market information systems and on coordination between a broader labour market information system and a labour migration sub-system;
o Fifth, in terms of use and analysis of labour migration data for policy-making and monitoring purposes.

• To ensure sustainability, intervention should aim for structural reform taking the shape of:
o Adopt a tailored approach depending on the national migration profile and statistical infrastructure in place to collect data on migration: permanent insertion of migration modules or specific questions in existing labour market and household surveys, as well as in census (given their importance for benchmarking and for developing sampling frames for surveys) and/or establish a regular migration survey;
o Leadership for the strengthening of the information system taken by the national statistical office and/or Ministry of labour;
o Importance to establish a governance structure involving the various stakeholders (producers, key users), and with clear roles for the national statistical office and the Ministry of Labour;
o Capacity-building should not neglect top management that needs to be convinced of the relevance and possibility of changes and should be part of formal training curricula.

• In addition, depending on the nationally tailored survey strategy, integrate priority topics/modules for measurement, including on the measurement of recruitment costs (SDG 10.7.1), on a regular multi-year cycle to enable monitoring.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

In the long-term, to improve the collection of labour migration data, it is essential to have a labour market information system in place that integrates a sub-system on labour migration information. Important steps to achieve this have been made in Tunisia and Morocco. To build/strengthen a labour market information system, it is essential to work on four different components:
(1) collection and compilation of data and information,
(2) a repository of labour market information (a software platform),
(3) analytical capacity and tools (monitoring or tracking a set of indicators, quantitative and qualitative analytical methods, and econometric models), and
(4) institutional arrangements to enable labour market actors to use information and analysis and facilitate the creation of networks of users and producers.

This approach has to be taken to both build a labour market information system and a sub-system on labour migration, which will support the collection and analysis of harmonized data supporting policy development and informing political decisions.


This practice has been innovative in the sense that for the first time, the 2018 ICLS Guidelines on international labour migration have been applied in North Africa, ensuring a coherent approach between four different countries. This will strengthen the collection of harmonized data that can be exchanged between countries. This is a key feature when talking about migration, which is by definition a cross-border phenomenon. Data has to follow people and give reliable information on the movement of people for employment purposes.

Date submitted:

11 April 2022

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).