Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pitfalls For Seeking Talent Dividend

Arguing against seeking higher educational attainment rates might seem silly. But a glut of doctorates without the capacity to fully employ this talent is a recipe for disaster. Consider the current troubles in Ireland:

The official failure to develop a viable career framework for newly qualified researchers ensures that many face a bleak choice between unemployment, casual working or emigration.

A 'brain-drain' has already started, as qualified graduates travel to jobs in continental Europe, Australia, the USA and Canada. This outflow will become a long-term feature of our as the recovery here lags behind the rest of the world.

Recent government policy has created new disincentives for researchers, which undermine its earlier objective of building world-class research teams across all disciplines.

I don't think the problem is an incoherent policy agenda. We are hellbent on chaining graduates to the native soil. This approach creates a captive labor market, which companies and universities are happy to exploit. The unexpected result is lackluster (if any) growth of the innovation economy.

A better approach would be job placement regardless of location. The strategy is counterintuitive, but forces local industry compete at the global scale for talent. You want the entire world to demand graduates from your regional schools. Ignoring the potential spillovers, outsiders learn about the skilled labor coming from your area thanks to your export program. The easiest way to ensure a bigger slice of graduates is to open a branch there. A cluster is born.

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