09 October 2006

Reversing Braindrain

In the recent (Sep 06) Economist’s special report on global talent, there is a very interesting article on governments hunting talent (1) . The different policies are impressive. USA, UK, France, Canada, Australia, India, China, they are all more and more in the game of luring the ultimate scarce resource of modern economies. Surprise, surprise, Singapore is once more in the forefront.

I would really like to know what Greece’s policy on the issue is. But in a country that still debates whether it should allow private education, it is hard to imagine that there is any specific policy on attracting talent at all. Not only we are not proactive, but I suspect that currently we are gradually loosing abroad the precious domestic supply.

If we decide to get serious about it, there are three ways to increase our economy’s talent capacity:
1-Increase our domestic talent production by improving our educational system
2-Train our talent abroad. Send as many young Greeks as possible in the best universities and companies of the world and after a period manage to bring them back (2)
3-Import foreign talent

Concerning 2 and 3, the possible strategies would be:
-Provide direct incentives, like tax benefits, reduced military service for Greeks that manage to study in the top universities or work for specific companies.
-Provide indirect incentives, like a stimulating economy, friendly environment
-Improve the “Greece” brand, make talented people feel good to be Greek and live in Greece. It may sound weird because of its nationalist undertone, but let’s face it, in a globalized world with people mixing and living in different countries, the necessary (3) choice of a specific nationality will be similar to the choice of becoming a fan of a specific team, or to the choice of working for a specific company because of its brand (4).

In any case, the first step would be to put all the above in the agenda of public debate.

(1) Non-subscribers feel free to ask me to send you the relevant piece
(2) Let’s not forget the benefits of remittance
(3) necessary for legal but mostly for psychological reasons
(4) Goldman Sachs employees famously accept a lower basic salary than the market average

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