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Britain’s Brain Drain | Immigration Matters

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Britain has lost more skilled workers to the global brain drain than any other country, according to a World Bank report, even more so than the Philippines in second place and India which comes in third.

More than 1.44 million graduates, or one in six graduates from British universities or schools, are living and working in other countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia.

About 200,000 more graduates have left than entered Britain from other nations, said Tuesday’s Independent newspaper, adding that the report will fuel concerns Britain is failing to retain its educated workers.

British graduates are even going to India to working Call Centres, it said. Last week, a survey found that UK graduates were prepared to fill an expected 16,000 Indian Call Centre vacancies by 2009.

A report earlier this year said a Scottish history graduate quit his 21,000 pounds a yea job for Sky Television to work in an Indian call centre.

The most popular destination is the US, which has 400,000 Britons followed by Canada and Australia with 365,000 each, and 200,000 in the rest of European Union countries.

Frederic Docquier, a respected researcher and co author of the report, said the growing number of departures could damage the country’s long-term productivity.

“It does show an economic problem for developed countries. For countries such as the UK, a brain drain is clearly a loss. It may impact the rate of growth and the number of innovations that create growth in the long-run,” he told The Independent.

He said the problem was exacerbated by the relatively low level of university education in the UK, which means the exodus of professionals is more keenly felt. Fewer than 20 per cent of Britons are educated to degree level and the figures are higher on the Continent – 27 per cent in Belgium, 25 per cent in Germany and 22 in France – and way below levels in the US.

The paper said the report would especially worry employers, like engineering and pharmaceutical companies, who need qualified workers.

Last month UK’s Minister for Immigration and Asylum Tony McNulty at a reception by the Labour Friends of India had sharply pointed out the problem. “Our focus is not how to stop Indians coming over here, but how to prevent talented educated graduates of Indian origin leaving the UK to work in India,” said McNulty. His sentiments have been echoed in the World Bank report.

Immigration Matters – View

At a time when the Government is reviewing the immigration system, this report highlights the difficulties the UK will face unless we can attract and retain more graduates and talented people. This is not a new situation as young people have always sought greener pastures abroad. We should making it easier for skilled people who wish to come to the UK to live work study or visit.

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