Saturday, August 04, 2007

Brain Exchange Pittsburgh

Brain drain is NOT the exodus of human capital from a region. While Richard Florida's book titled Flight of the Creative Class might indicate a preoccupation with why people leave (known in migration scholarship as "push" factors), Dr. Florida's blog is about where talent is headed ("pull" factors). Regardless, a number of smart people informing public policy are focused on reducing push in their region:

We create the matrix of opportunity for business here - the new infrastructure for growth - by investing in strengthening the programs and number of graduates of our institutions of higher education. Government's role and need for investments here is no longer debatable: now we must decide the best strategies to enroll and graduate more students, retain them in our state and reverse the brain drain.

Typically, the outflow of human capital is not the problem. The issue of concern is the in-migration of talent. Brain drain is the net loss of human capital, not the out-migration of college graduates. If the in-migration is a trickle, the necessary stemming of the out-migration tide to stop brain drain is impractical.

Fair enough, but what kind of policy would increase Pittsburgh's pull? One idea I'm mulling over is figuring out where most of Pittsburgh's talent is going. Our region should target the region where CMU and Pitt graduates are heading in large numbers. Instead of looking at local universities for employees, I recommend that Pittsburgh enterprise seek out Stanford or Berkeley brains.

What would it take to attract the talent in this labor pool? That's a policy worth pursuing.


Justin Kownacki said...

One thing that would help in the "pull" of new faces to the region would be an increase in diversity. The more I think about it, that really feels like the barrier between Pittsburgh and other like-sized or like-positioned cities: if a city is multicultural, it's far more attractive to the forward-thinking than a city where people are still generally segregated (not via policy, but via sociology and culture).

Schultz said...

I agree with you Justin, but the big problem is that instead of our leaders here in Pittsburgh addressing the issue, they are trying to fool everyone into thinking we are truly a diverse city. Check out Pittsblog for more on this.

txlaw said...

Individuals, such as myself, who were raised in the Pittsburgh area but not connected to the Pittsburgh Establishment (I prefer to call it the "Inbred Mafia") had little chance at success. The "Establishment" is only concerned with maintaining their power and little else. For those who stay in the Pittsburgh region, their highest hopes are in retail sales, car salesperson, or if they are extraordinarily lucky, Hoagie shop owner. Those of us who attained our college education and fled the region have found a welcoming respect for our talents in our new homes (Texas for me), and little concern for who we know or who can "pull strings" to get us a "good job." (A "good job" is an oft used phrase in Pittsburgh, seldomly heard in more progressive regions of the U.S.) Until the "Inbred Mafia" is destroyed, Pittsburgh has little chance of progressing and is most assuradly destined for further brain drain.