Global Flows of Talents

by Jörgen Eriksson on October 27, 2014

GlobalisationFor decades, talented people born in emerging markets have moved to study and then to work in the advanced economies of the West. But lately something remarkable is happening. In many emerging countries, the brain drain has reversed its flow.

The causes are fascinating, and there is reason to be optimistic that the vicious cycle of migration from poor countries can be broken, transforming the balance of hope and opportunity between developing and developed economies.

A new study by LinkedIn, the world’s largest online professional network and recruitment platform, has measured the net international movement of talent among its members. LinkedIn has a unique view into how 300 million professionals are moving around the world to pursue career opportunities. This mobility of professional talent can tell us a great deal about the state of economic opportunity and the health of the global economy.

Topping the list as a destination for talent is United Arab Emirates, with a net talent gain of 1.3% of the workforce in 2013. Other net talent magnets include Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, India, Germany and Brazil, as can be seen in the graph blow.


Most interesting, fewer than one-third of net talent importers are developed countries. In fact, the top talent exporters in the study are Spain, the UK, France, the United States, Italy, and Ireland. Rich countries that until recently had been magnets for talents and who were hard hit by the crises are now net exporters.

This shows that opportunity, post-crises, is becoming a scarce commodity in many parts of the West. But this is not the case in the developing world – at least among countries with the appetite and determination to deploy strong governance and continually raise their competitiveness.

Second, quality of life matters greatly. A generation ago, many talented individuals would consider working outside the West a hardship posting. For many of my childhood friends from Sweden it was a necessary but reluctant career step to be posted abroad and they usually returned as they formed families.

Today, standards of living in Singapore and United Arab Emirates, for example, are among the highest in the world and opportunities for spouse and education for children is often better than in the home country.

The business of reversing brain drain is also the business of creating a better life for citizens and residents. I have young near relatives myself who have been attracted to Dubai and who make an excellent career and enjoy a good life there, whilst many of the same generation Y remain unemployed in Europe.

About Jörgen Eriksson :

Jörgen Eriksson is the founder of Bearing and is the Chairman of the firm since it was created. He has successfully expanded Bearing into covering projects on four continents. He is also Adjunct Professor of Innovation Management at the International University of Monaco and at Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya in Barcelona and he is an active member of the Founders Alliance organisation.

Working with consulting engagements across Bearings practices, he has over the past fifteen years participated in and supervised a large number of client projects, from innovation system development and place development and branding, to merger and acquisition assignments and leading edge research and business development activities for key clients.

His new book, Branding for Hooligans, will be published in 2015. It is about how innovation and branding are key survival factors in our modern times of hyper competitive markets.

Prior to Bearing, he was Director of Europe, Middle East, and Africa for Trema Treasury Management, a technology and consulting services provider, supplying financial software solutions for the global financial industry, Clients included The European Central Bank, Citibank, SEB, South African reserve Bank, Deutsche Bank, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), as well as many other large financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies.

Early in his career Eriksson was educated at the Stockholm School of Economics, where he studied economics, financial economics and philosophy. He then worked in Scandinavian investment banks and also for the Swedish Institute of National Defense Research.

You can contact Jörgen on e-mail, connect on LinkedIn onörgen-eriksson/0/38/8a0/ and follow him on twitter on joreri508.

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