Another look at the brain drain
EDITOR: While it’s true that developing countries will continue to lose many of their brightest and best to the First world because of greener pastures, financial rewards or lack of patriotism must not be seen as the sole motivators for these departures.
Persons need to feel that they are making a worthwhile contribution, and that their presence is not being merely tolerated. We have to stop hiring based on longevity, political affiliation, friendship or nepotism. Instead we should be seeking to reward qualification, competence and experience.
I agree wholeheartedly that “Vincentians must devote themselves to reinventing their nation.” But it is not enough for us to espouse this principle, we must actually practise it. Too many of our Directors, Managers and Private Practitioners are almost lethargic in their approach to work. Further, they regard the young professional returning home with new ideas and innovations for improved efficiency as arrogant or an upstart.
In my own experience with both the public and private sectors, I am amazed that so many of the simple courtesies now seem irrelevant. Meeting deadlines, being punctual, returning phone calls, and adhering to established protocols all seem to be on the path to extinction. Many of our technocrats will swallow wholeheartedly anything coming from any foreigner called “consultant”, but will quickly dismiss the suggestions or ideas of the local professional.
We must remember that many returnees are almost in all cases coming from countries much more developed than ours. They would have worked or been exposed to improved systems and policies. Thus, they now know better and are not likely to settle for the usual mediocrity.
Therefore the Education Revolution must not only educate our young people. We must begin to demand quality service, and high performance from our seasoned professionals. There should be zero tolerance for laziness, dishonesty and incompetence.
Let us at least gave the whistleblower a hearing before dismissing him/her as a troublemaker. It is not enough to “market our country as an attractive place to work,” we must make it so. Too many of us can write entire epistles on good governance, yet we will not implement the systems necessary for such.
I believe the brain drain can be stemmed. Maybe we can start with exit interviews of those leaving our shores to understand whether they are beckoned or propelled.
I will be willing to bet they are not all in search of greener pastures but maybe clearer skies.
S. P. Haynes