A highly educated and highly skilled workforce is a valuable resource for any country. Having top-level professionals in several key fields – be they engineers, medical doctors, physicists or programmers – is as important to a country’s development as its natural resources. Sadly, a lot of countries can’t offer a tangible incentive for either professors working in higher education institutions or skilled professionals that have received training in such institutions. For this reason the brunt of the country’s brain power migrates to more developed countries, such as Australia, where they have the opportunity to improve, use cutting edge technology and get a handsome reward for their work.
This means that developing countries – such as India and South Africa – often find themselves in a paradoxical situation where they need to improve the social and financial situation in order to keep their intellectual elite, but they need that same highly skilled workforce in order to work out the problems and improve the conditions within the country. Developed countries, on the other hand, benefit greatly from the phenomenon of brain-drain as they see a steady increase of highly educated and technically proficient professionals from both the local populace and those coming in from different countries.
It has been shown over and over again that out of the total number of students who come from developing countries to study in universities in America, Canada, UK or Australia, only a small number actually return home. This is great news for developed countries – they provide optimal conditions for the local populace to receive higher education, but they also get young, intelligent people from across the globe who come and stay, as well as fully trained professionals who actually received their training abroad and come looking for a job. Thus, the scientific community becomes saturated and there is a lot more competition – which leads to only the very best being at the forefront of their respective fields. For this reason there is constant innovation and improvement, so countries such as Australia take the lead when it comes to technological development while some countries with the weaker economies that actually have a pretty good education system lag behind.
The Australian government strives to make it easy for these talented individuals to come into the country, offering a migration program that enables people to earn visas based on their skills. There is such a huge influx of skilled professionals that many professions reach full saturation and are removed from the Skilled Occupations List (SOL), which means that at this point Australia has more skilled professionals available in certain sectors than it actually needs. While this is a great for Australia, countries in dire need of skilled professionals get left out of the equation and are faced with more banal problems. Brain-drain only increases the gap between developed and developing countries, which leads to a lot of very important problems – e.g. famine and disease – being overlooked or inadequately addressed. There is no simple solution for this technological monopoly, but we have to start thinking on a more global level if we are to progress to the next step in our evolution as an advanced civilization.