Evaluation of the Dutch Government “Blue Birds” Circular Migration Pilot (2011-2012)

The Dutch “Blue Birds” circular migration pilot was initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment. The pilot was an experiment under the Dutch Migration and Development policy in which circular migration is one of the priorities and aimed at researching whether circular or temporary labour migration can create a triple win situation for migrants, sending countries and receiving country. Furthermore the pilot was expected to provide clarity regarding, risk, possibilities and difficulties or impossibilities involved in circular migration. Finally the pilot was intended to explore if circular migration can be used as a tool for development cooperation.

The circular migration pilot was designed to bring in 200 middle skilled workers from two different developing countries to work in the Netherlands for a maximum of two years. Circular migrants were intended to obtain training and practical experience in the Netherlands which could strengthen the migrant’s personal competences and bring development to home countries or communities.

The main question to be answered in this study is: Why was the HIT Foundation unable to reach its target of 160 migrants working in regular vacancies within the Netherlands in shortage sectors after one year?

The following sub-question are answered within this study:

  1. In how far did the assignment framework (choice of countries, limitations regarding length of stay, education level, exclusion of high and low skilled migrants, exclusion of health sector, focus on employment shortage areas) influence the fact that set goals were not reached?
  2. In how far did external factors like the economic crisis and change in parliament during 2010 influence the implementation process of the circular migration pilot (timing pilot).
  3. In how far did the quality of the implementation process, directly led to not reaching goals.
  4. What lessons can be learned from the pilot?
  5. Under what conditions (in line with ‘Notitie Migratie en Ontwikkeling -2008’ and ‘Kamerbrief Internationale Migratie en Ontwikkeling – Juni 2011) would a new circular migration pilot have a chance to succeed?
pdf Migratie en Ontwikkeling: Beleidsevaluatie van het Nederlandse Migratie- en Ontwikkelingsbeleid sinds 2008, Eindrapport
pdf Evaluation of the ‘Blue Birds’ Circular Migration Pilot in The Netherlands