• OECD advice comes as Brexit camp questions border controls
  • More should be done to retain international students, it says

European Union countries should do more to encourage potential highly skilled migrants to choose to settle in the 28-nation bloc for work, the OECD said, as the issue of immigration continues to dominate the U.K.’s EU referendum campaign.

Even as Europe deals with the biggest wave of refugees since World War II, the region’s economy would still benefit from making the EU more attractive for people seeking employment, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said in a report published on Tuesday.

“The European Union has to build its brand among potential labor migrants, so that they choose the EU,” the Paris-based body said. “The European Union is the world’s leading destination for international students, but has not been able to capitalize on this to build a solid bridge to labor migration for the graduates who are most needed.”

With more than 1 million migrants arriving in the EU in 2015, campaigners pushing for the U.K. to leave the bloc when it holds its membership referendum on June 23 have poured scorn on Prime Minister David Cameron’s efforts to control arrivals. Leading Brexit campaigners have suggested introducing a points-based system for immigration that would control borders but keep the door open for those with certain skills.

The report comes as the European Commission prepares to overhaul its rules on migration in a bid to attract a greater number of highly qualified workers. The OECD said EU nations need to work together far more on this issue, and make it easier for foreign students to stay.

“The European Union is facing impending skills shortages in a number of areas and member states, but labor migration has only been a fraction of total migration, and the share of migrants with high levels of skills and qualifications is smaller than in many other OECD destinations, despite recent improvements,” according to the OECD report. “The European Union should be more active in origin countries, supporting member states to reach potential students, researchers and workers.”

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