Stopping the brain drain: Is it possible?

The brain drain phenomenon is a quite well know concept for developing countries. It is mainly attributed to lack of opportunities in the home country, social conflicts – or simply a way out for people who are seeking a better quality of life with better education, career opportunities, and safety. These are also the main factors that attract skilled and educated workers to leave their countries and search for better opportunities. But this problem is not only pinned to developing countries. Even more developed countries such as Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania that are already EU members, are faced with this challenge. According to a World Bank Research, approximately 3 percent of the world’s population lives in a country different from that of their birth and this number is only increasing day by day. Out of the overall number of migrants, one in three migrants in the world go to Europe. These statistics, undoubtedly represent a major advantage for the ‘hosting country’, which utilizes the benefits generated from the skilled labor force, such as improved productivity and growth. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the ‘home country’, which apart from a loss in its pool of entrepreneurs and knowledgeable workforce, it is also faced with major economic issues that in the long run hamper the growth and cause more people to migrate.

But, is there a potential solution that may at some extent stop or slow down the brain drain? Looking from a broad and long term perspective, governments should draft policies for improving the overall delivery of public services, strengthening its institutions, improving governance, etc. Despite the long term policy option that governments must undertake, there are specific policies that can be implemented that may halt the brain drain.

Firstly, given that the lack of access to quality education and advanced studies is one of the main obstacles and reasons for which people migrate, the government should invest in the education system. Providing qualitative postgraduate and doctorate studies may be an option for stopping people from going elsewhere.

Lack of competitive salaries for high-skilled occupations is another reason stimulating brain drain. Reforms such as investments for promoting the private sector development and job creation need to be undertaken that would create a favorable environment for skilled works to remain in the country. By prioritizing education that aligns with the needs of the private sector and job market, governments can address the underlying issue of inadequate salaries for high-skilled jobs. Well-educated professionals are better positioned to negotiate competitive compensation packages and contribute meaningfully to the development of industries that rely on advanced skills and expertise. Thus, according to experts the type of education professionals receive is a cornerstone in building the foundation for a favorable environment that encourages skilled workers to stay in their country rather than seeking opportunities abroad.

Discrimination among marginalized groups is yet another reason contributing to brain drain. The focus is particularly on skilled females who are the ones without much support. Investment in programs that develop females and increase their opportunities for career development and employment must be considered by the government to help the country retain their talents.

Lastly, engaging the diaspora in the overall growth of the country can seem a potential policy option. Having a lot of people living abroad, but still continuously contributing to their origin country through remittances and investments, can really benefit the country. Furthermore, providing incentives such as tax incentives to attract these people to come back to their home country and contribute with their gained knowledge and earned capital would greatly help the country in economic development.

Overall, the problem of brain drain must be closely analyzed as the reasons differ from country to country.  However, the government must design policies that foster job creation, create stability, and improve the overall standard of life.

Here at ECIKS, we work with public sector institutions and top-level decision-makers to take initiatives and explore alternative ideas that lead to sustainable solutions for the needs of general public.

Photo by Katie Moum on Unsplash