In an age of mass migration, what does a ‘global race for talent’ really mean?

I am preparing for a talk at the ESCP in Paris on the “Global Race for Talent”. I am to respond to Professor Amanda Frost’s presentation on the issue which describes how the United States, Europe, Australia, and Canada compete with each other to lure a global elite in business, science, the arts, athletics, and fashion to immigrate temporarily or permanently. According to the ESCP’s description of the talk and panel discussion, the aforementioned countries do this “in part through carefully tailored immigration laws that grant visas and even citizenship to the most talented citizens of other countries. The sending countries have responded by attempting to win back their most highly-skilled former citizens through tax and repatriation laws.The result is a mobile elite of highly educated and skilled workers who are now willing and able to travel the world, going wherever the pay and benefits are the highest. But the story is not all positive. The race for the top talent can be costly for those countries who fail to compete successfully.”

Among the talented, we can count Becky Hammon (Olympian), Sundar Pichai (Google), Melania Trump (model and wife of presidential candidate Donald Trump), Dominic Barton, (McKinsey) Tomas Lindahl (Nobel laureate). The list goes on though the actual numbers are not staggering.

While I will have more to say after the Paris event, Annalisa and I sat at HIGGS thinking about what this kind of brain drain can do to countries of origin. We also began talking about how the current mass wave of migration is bringing people with a variety of skill sets or no skills and education to speak of in Europe first and foremost, much less so in Canada and then the United States who still employ selection criteria.

According to a report prepared by Germany’s Federal Service for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) on nearly 1.1 million refugees who entered Germany in 2015, entitled Asylum applicants: Social structure, qualifications and employability, most of refugees are young men.

Over 80 percent of the asylum seekers that recently arrived in Germany have no formal qualifications, and only eight percent have a college degree. The study covered the migrants’ literacy and education. 18 percent of asylum applicants hold a university degree, 20 percent have attended a high school, approximately one-third a secondary school and 22 percent a primary school. Seven percent of migrants have no formal education at all.

I believe that we have a very interesting discussion ahead of us in Paris.




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