Sunday, April 15, 2012

Portugal Joins Talent Economy

The winners in the Talent Economy are countries that export talent. Portugal used to import talent from former colonies. Today, a massive return migration is underway:

The Portuguese also have a long history in Angola, where they numbered hundreds of thousands in colonial times.

Most of them left after the southern African country became independent in 1975 and was plunged into nearly three decades of civil war.

Angola's oil resources are now driving an economic growth of nearly 10 per cent.

It urgently needs Portuguese-speaking engineers, economists, teachers, hotel employees and others to rebuild and develop it after the war.

About 130,000 Portuguese already live in Angola, where thousands of Portuguese companies are present.

"Right now, the way things stand, Portugal's main and most lucrative economic activity is the export of people," business executive Antonio Fernandes said.

He was speaking to the Spanish daily El Pais just as he was about to leave for Angola to head a branch of a multinational company specialising in energy materials in Luanda.

Even Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho recently encouraged teachers to emigrate.

Emphasis added. How is exporting people a "lucrative economic activity"? Why is the Prime Minister paving the way for talent to leave the country? US communities grappling with brain drain need to answer these questions.

Talent is scarce and geographically mobile. Figuring out ways to benefit from outmigration will be critical for regional economic development. But such strategies are not part of the conversation. Better to work with talent flows than against them.


Randy McDonald said...

It's a more rational use of skilled people than sustained un/underemployment?

Jim Russell said...

It's a more rational use of skilled people than sustained un/underemployment?

Along the same line of thinking, talent retention fuels underemployment.