Friday, December 19, 2008

Migration and Economic Downturns

The current recession would seem deep enough to trigger a demographic re-ordering. The pressure to emigrate is growing in Ireland. On the other hand, like India, China is seeing a return of wayward talent:

Some cities and firms in China are quick to exploit the opportunity to lure back native talent. Saturday's fair was led by the Shanghai municipal government and organized by about two dozen banks, insurers and securities firms from the city, including the Shanghai Stock Exchange, one of the two stock exchanges in mainland China.

New York was the last stop in the delegation's efforts to poach back up to as many as 170 seasoned specialists in such fields as risk management and private wealth management. Its two earlier recruiting sessions in London and Chicago attracted a total of 1,200 people.

The jury is still out on whether Pittsburgh is trending towards Ireland or represents boomerang opportunities like China. The Pittsburgh Regional Alliance is actively courting labor from beyond the pale. But I'm not sure how seriously to take this talent search. I doubt we will see Pittsburgh companies going from city to city looking for workers like the Canadian province of Alberta has done.

There is a talent shortage in Pittsburgh. Cleveland faces the same problem:

Among myriad efforts to build the region's economy, one ingredient is missing -- seasoned entrepreneurs who can take our innovations to market.

That's the view of Thomas Bradshaw, a successful businessman who sat among heavy hitters in economic development Wednesday during a "Transforming the Region's Economy" luncheon at the City Club of Cleveland.

The region is spawning early-stage companies and attracting venture capital, Bradshaw told 200 listeners.

"What we're missing in Cleveland is the [seasoned] entrepreneurs," said Bradshaw, vice chairman of the board at NorTech, which fosters growth of tech companies. "We need to recruit from the East and West coasts."

I've heard this concern voiced while in Pittsburgh for the PodCamp unconference and I keep reading articles highlighting this problem. You might note that China's American talent swing is intended to yield a modest number of expatriates, "170 seasoned specialists." Why not employ Carl Kurlander's movie and Steeltown Entertainment, along with the Pittsburgh Tech Council, to attract this experience from among the Burgh Diaspora?

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