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Thursday, November 24, 2005

The US & The War For Talent

WSJ writes that industrialized countries other than the US recognize the importance of human capital for economic growth, and they have ratcheted up recruitment of the world's mobile talent. Meanwhile, the U.S., the undisputed leader in attracting global talent, has erected barriers for skilled migrants and watches passively as they stay home or go elsewhere.America has seen the number of legal migrants, who tend to be more educated, fall by nearly a third over the past few years . Now is not the time to scale back foreign recruitment. The explosive growth of higher education in many developing countries, particularly in Asia, has caused a perceptible, if gradual, shift in the global talent pool. China and India are producing more engineers than all industrial countries combined. Larger developing countries have new opportunities to attract jobs for skilled workers and keep them at home. Today's skilled jobs are increasingly service jobs, and, unlike manufacturing jobs, service work is skill-intensive rather than capital-intensive. With the rising educational attainment in many developing countries, and the low capital costs of outsourcing service labor, developing countries have an emerging competitive advantage. Foreign talent has helped make the U.S. economy the world's most productive and innovative. Time spent in the U.S. by foreign citizens has also been a crucial means by which American values and institutions have been transferred around the world. Raising barriers to talented foreign students and workers might yield short-term political gains, but the long-term economic consequences will be much less salubrious. While the concerns are obvious and well thought out,recently elaborated by Richard Florida so tantalisingly - I do not know of any other country in the world which can absorb immigrants in the scale that the US traditionally does and there are not many societies outside of the US that can be so open minded and welcome immigrants and allow them to seemlessly fuse into local ethos.

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