Migration and Diasporas
The labour market for overseas-educated health workers, particularly nurses, within the Asia-Pacific region has seen dramatic transformations in the past 10 years. On the demand side, the increasing long-term care needs of the ageing population as well as the success and active promotion of medical tourism boosted the labour demand in related sectors to unprecedented levels. Because of the strong propensities to overseas labour demand and migration, more and more workers in less-developed Asian countries are now attracted to take up health-related courses in the hope of working overseas. How to attract highly skilled healthcare workers in the light of growing competition has also become an urgent concern among host countries. Against these backgrounds, in these series of panels (I and II) we closely look at how stakeholders in both sending and host Asia-Pacific countries have responded to these changing international and domestic labour market trends and discuss their implications on the patterns and sustainability of nurse migration within the region.
In panel II, we particularly look at nurses educated/trained in India and the Philippines who are employed as careworkers, non-clinical hospital staff and nursing aides (here, we use the term non-nursing settings to describe these jobs that do not require nursing license although nursing skills are “tacitly” recognized) – in New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. In the three presentations, it is shown how host countries’ labour and migration policies, labour market conditions as well as professional regulations have resulted in the active recruitment and/or employment in these settings. Garces-Ozanne discusses the migration patterns of nurses educated in India and the Philippines in New Zealand, in which the entry pathway to the labour market is through working in nursing homes via the nursing student visa, as careworkers. In the second presentation by Tsujita, she investigates the deskilling of Indian nurses who are employed as nursing aides in Singapore and Malaysia. Sarausad, on the other hand, explains that the medical tourism industry of Thailand relies heavily on overseas-educated nurses who are hired as non-clinical staff in hospitals and clinics. In all three cases, although the migrant nurses achieve economic mobility, they also experience deskilling and/or underutilization of their nursing skills.