From Brain Drain to Brain Circulation: The Guyana Experience Presenter: Elizabeth C. Persaud

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1 From Brain Drain to Brain Circulation: The Guyana Experience Presenter: Elizabeth C. Persaud Theme: Analysing Current Issues in the Changing Hemispheric Environment. University of Guyana 6th November, 2014

2 Introduction The migration of highly qualified and skilled persons is a natural phenomenon. The accelerated development of communication, transport, trade and information networks through globalisation, and transnational identities and mobility has strengthened the connections of migrants to two or more places. Human capital is one of the most important pillars for a country to create a knowledge- based economy. Source: International Organization for Migration,2010 2

3 Introduction Brain drain is of great concern to small states as international labour mobility continues to deplete them of their highly skilled and qualified nationals owing to emigration to developed countries. Brain drain has stymied Guyanese human capital development and consequently, the country s productive capacity. Guyana must develop strategies to reduce the impact of the brain drain phenomenon. Citation: World Economic Forum,2014 The Global Competitiveness Report

4 Introduction The creation of a knowledge-based economy is vital to its innovative capacity and to increase competitiveness. Brain Circulation, a term coined by Saxenian (2005) emphasises the two way flow of skilled migrants between home and host countries in contrast to the oneway brain drain or reverse brain drain phenomenon. Brain Circulation has presented benefits that can be used to recapture some of Guyana s lost knowledge and skills that resides in the diasporas. Citation: Saxenian, Daugeliene, Marcinkeviciene:

5 Migratory Patterns in the Caribbean Migration has been an inherent part of the history of the Caribbean dated back to the 16th century colonialisation, slavery and Indentureship. Historically, the Caribbean has been a region of production and the transfer of labour that has aided in the industrialization and development of nation states in Europe. Migratory patterns and chosen destinations have changed over the years; as contemporary times have seen the movement of persons of a more voluntary nature. Citation: Thomas-Hope, Nurse,2004. Reis,2006 5

6 Migratory Patterns in the Caribbean The Caribbean has moved towards becoming a net exporter of labour which is a shift from a traditional net importer of labour, thereby creating one of the largest diaspora communities in the world in proportion to its population (Nurse: 2004). After independence during the 1960s, the Caribbean began to experience a wave of emigration to other countries and small islands within the region, where people were in search of employment and better working conditions. 6

7 Migratory Patterns in the Caribbean A regional approach was taken to expand the CARICOM (Caribbean Community) to a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). CARICOM nationals can take advantage of employment opportunities in various sectors and creating a release valve for surplus of labour within member states). This was primarily focused on qualified professionals and skilled persons with the objective of creating a more competitive region to combat the challenges of globalization and the capitalist policies had brought on the region. Citation: CARICOM Secretariat,

8 Guyana: an overview Population size: 800,000 ( 2014 est) According to the Commonwealth definition of a small state. being countries comprising a population size of below 1.5 million. Political independence from Britain was gained on 26th May, 1966 and Guyana became the Cooperative Republic four years later on the 23rd February, During the 1980s the country witnessed a significant outward migratory flow of its most skilled and qualified persons primarily due to the devastation of its economy and a dramatic decline in living conditions. Citation: CARICOM, Commonwealth,2014. Merill,

9 Guyana: an overview State involvement during the 1970s in the main productive sectors such as bauxite, sugar and rice led to an economic downturn in Guyana; The economic policies that were pursued during the 1970s and 1980s were characterized as cooperative socialism. However, structural reforms and a more open market initiative have reported increasing levels of economic growth for the country. Source: World Bank,

10 Guyana s Competitive Capacity Source: World economic Forum,2014 Guyana scores 117 out of 144 countries. 10

11 Positioning the theories in Brain Drain The Neoclassical Economic theory v v wage differentials that exists among countries which are endowed with abundant labour have lower wages than those that are more capital endowed. v labour motivates the decision to migrate to host countries in order to increase migrants earnings. The New Economics of Migration v v premise on strategic planning as a household with the goal of maximising their earnings, by diversifying their sources of income which meant the emigration of some family members to countries with employment opportunities. Citation: Massey et al.,

12 Factors that contribute to Outward Migration Migrants decisions to emigrate from Guyana were motivated predominantly by the following: 12

13 Impact of Brain Drain on Guyana Lack of innovative capacity Deteriorated health and education system Weak infrastructure Technological inefficiency Lack of a knowledge-based economy 13

14 Brain Gain as a strategy for Brain Gain Guyana s attempt : The Guyana Diaspora Project The Remigrant Programme Outcome: ü ü unsuccessful in attracting and retaining the human capital to drive innovation. Abuse of the duty free concessions available under the Remigrant programme. 14

15 Brain Circulation Human capital is an increasingly important pillar for a country s knowledge based economy s development Brain circulation is a result of the development and alternation of brain drain and brain gain phenomenon. Drivers of Brain Circulation Globalisation an increase in the advancement of communication and transportation technologies, making it less difficult for migrants to maintain close links with their families and friends within their home countries facilitated by Transnationalism. 15

16 Brain Circulation Transnationalism Transnationalists view migration as the continuation of a migration story. Transnationalism comprises of two interrelated areas: v v transnational identities transnational mobility. 16

17 Brain Circulation Transnational identities have resulted from the combination of the identities of the home country and the identities that migrants acquire while living abroad in their host countries. Migrants are viewed as having the capacity of negotiating their place in whether in their home or host country with the view of becoming a part of it; such migrants are likely to hold dual passports and dual nationalities ( dual citizenship). Citation: Cassarino,

18 Measures for Brain Circulation in Guyana Engage strategic persons within the Guyanese diaspora for business investment, transfer of skills and training in specialized sectors via the Guyana Diaspora Project. Strengthen diplomacy with the diaspora via Twiplomacy, and celebrity diplomacy. Economic citizenship in exchange for major investments in industries such as the agro-industry, construction of medical factories, garbage disposal, manufacturing plants. 18

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