Migration and Retention for Regional Development: Perspectives from Highly Skilled Turkish Migrants in the Netherlands
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Highly skilled migrants are becoming an increasingly important element in global migration flows. They have a key role in the regional development, contributing the host economies in a number of ways, including knowledge transfers, increasing diversity, bringing new specialisations, entrepreneurial activities, and improvement of human capital in general. Attracting and retaining highly skilled people from other regions is a crucial policy area for regional development and knowledge-based economies and the Netherlands is among the leading countries in this global competition. Among the home countries of migrants in the Netherlands, Turkey come into the picture as a major origin, with an increasing trend in the last decade. This research explores the perspectives of the recent wave of highly skilled Turkish migrants in the Netherlands from three interrelated dimensions: how and why the highly skilled migrants move from Turkey to the Netherlands, in which conditions they prefer to stay, and how they perceive their contribution to regional economic development. Employing a mixed strategy, primary data from an online survey and semi-structured interviews with 16 migrants and one policymaker have been analysed in this research. Besides other conclusions and policy recommendations, the key findings of this research include that highly skilled Turkish migrants provide an invaluable contribution to the Netherlands, its regional economies, and companies. Although the attraction factors have an effect on their migration to the Netherlands, their decisions primarily result from push factors in the origin. As a result, their retention and sustained contribution also depend on those factors as well as developing an attachment with the cities and integration to the communities, which is highly related with learning Dutch language and positive influences and concerns about public services.