This article is the third in a 3 part blog series on brain drain in the context of international labor mobility. Its aim is to question the conventional wisdom and help devise win-win solutions to age old problems.
By Manjula Luthria*
Earlier in this series we marked the omnipresent concern about brain drain and noted that because the term evoked a powerful sense of loss it was no surprise that numerous public policies were designed with one primary goal in mind: stopping it. Lest you think such thinking is passé, in 2013 eminent economist Collier called for restrictions on emigration, claiming such restrictions to be “enlightened self- interest” and justifying them on grounds of “compassion” for those left behind in origin countries (see blog 1 here).
We then followed with a set of five thought-provoking pieces of data, pieces of information that questioned how the debate had been framed altogether and offered a view that migration may not have been the main culprit after all, especially in the health care sector where the emigration of health workers has been referred to as “fatal flows”. Allowing the data to show that migration was hardly the villain of the story was accomplished in these two previous blog posts (see blog 2 here).
Now we turn to the task of turning it into a hero!
Today we present a proposal for consideration that could be a game changer: “Global Skill Partnerships”. Instead of fighting the push and pull factors for migration it turns these very pull and push factors into the drivers of a new kind of win-win solution. It takes the enormous arbitrage opportunity that exists across borders in training costs, combines it with the astounding arbitrage opportunity that exists across borders in wages, and calls for a new global skills and mobility partnership. For illustrative purposes we focus on nursing skills, and the Europe-Tunisia corridor where this idea could be tested, but the idea has wider applicability. We are in active discussions with various stakeholders already and invite your reactions to this post and this series on brain drain. We will follow with expert commentary, as well as an online debate which we will announce shortly.