Thursday, January 17, 2013

Viet-Kieu Economic Development

Talent is returning to the places their parents left behind. The trend is evident in the Rust Belt. It's also a global phenomenon. See the exodus from Chicago. Add to this emerging narrative of globalization the reverse migration from the United States to Vietnam:

Here, I can be noticed because I read stuff in the U.S. faster, and then I can adapt it here and say, “Okay, in America they're doing this, and this is how it applies in Vietnam,” and that's a big part of what my career has been in Vietnam. It's like creating opportunities versus copying opportunities. It’s almost how I would categorize it here.

Chris Tran is describing the same kind of economic boom Robert Guest explores in his book, "Borderless Economics." Migration is not a zero-sum game. Brain drain doesn't exist. Two worlds are connected. Both benefit.

While there are important difference between transnational talent flows and domestic migration, growth from connectivity is universal. Tran's career is in between Vietnam and the United States. Similarly, Bob Collins (subject of yesterday's post) straddles Syracuse, NY and Berkeley, CA. The Rust Belt never lost him. But Syracuse doesn't know how to leverage that talent migration. Vietnam does:

Ling: In fact, Park says, foreign governments are purposely making it more attractive for Americans of their ethnic descent to move back. Thanh Nguyen is founder and CEO of a professional networking website in Ho Chi Minh City. It's aimed specifically at professionals with business interests in Vietnam. She says Viet-Kieu, the term for Vietnamese who live overseas, are welcomed with open arms.

Nguyen: So if you are Viet-Kieu and you come here with certain advantages in terms of knowledge and experience, but you compete to a local one, then you have more advantages to get a good job, especially in the sectors had mentioned before like hospitalities, in service, I.T., finance, and maybe media.

In the Rust Belt, return migrants are not welcomed with open arms. In fact, most shrinking cities have no idea these repats are back in town. The centerpiece of workforce development is talent retention. Outmigration, brain drain, is a failure.

Cities such as Syracuse are ignoring economic development opportunities. Don't plug the brain drain. Leverage it.

1 comment:

anmihail said...

Thought this might be of interest. Nostalgia, technology, Pittsburgh, and civic obstacles, all in one.