THE BLOG
02/27/2013 05:03 pm ET | Updated Apr 27, 2013

Brain Drain: Education and Innovation

The main problem of developing countries has always been limited access to basic services such as health, water, sanitation and education. This is due to their lack of economic development, as a low budget towards these items, their potential and opportunities are very limited.

Mainly, the issue of education should be of vital importance for a country with such features and should have access to this which allows you to specialize, grow and be competitive internationally and in a globalized world in which we live. Intellectual Capital is what allows country to have a comparative advantage.

Having professionals allows any nation, in the medium and long term, to prevent technology transfers and gives them capacity to create their own, in addition to patent development, greater access to goods and services and the creation of necessary manufactures which bring them better quality and accessibility for consumption and export, allowing a healthy industrialization, economic and technological potential.

In this regard, it is of most importance the recent announcement made by the United States, in terms of immigration reform's section on "Immigration-Innovation," which aims to provide visas to all workers whose certificate has been issued and endorsed by U.S. universities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as nurses and computer programmers.

But what is the impact of this measure at an International level?

First we consider the current global situation and that the countries that allocate the most resources to education are Iceland, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, Finland and in the Americas are the United States of America, Canada, Cuba, Brazil , Chile and Mexico, according to UNESCO.

So in mobility of students residing abroad, Mexico has almost 25,836 Mexicans with scholarships, of which 13,000 study at the United States, 2,933 in Spain, and at least in 2010 in which 1,954 lived in France, 1,503 in Germany, 1,337 in the United Kingdom, 1,269 in Canada and 1,013 in Cuba. From these figures 3,493 Mexicans are attending universities and are studying graduate and master's degrees in at least 24 nations.

Generally the favorite destinations to study are France, USA, England and most recently Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.

Although this represents a great opportunity to develop and gain current, sophisticated and new learning methods that enable them to succeed and gain access to a better quality of life for themselves and their families, it also represents a major challenge for their origin countries.

In Mexico, the public policies implemented by previous administrations allowed large numbers of Mexicans to study abroad through scholarships and incentives that allowed them to access these benefits, however, with the option offered by the United States immigration project; The main challenge of the other countries will be staying aware about "brain drain".

This is not new, since some years ago, several countries wishing to access new technologies and create economic development in order to stand on a better position as a competent country did so, they chose to send their students to learn new technology techniques, then returning to their home country to convey the "know how" needed to generate their own patents, technologies, etc., however the immigration reform bill comes to change the current scenario because it gives many people the opportunity to obtain the visa and citizenship.

And the "Immigration-Innovation" suggests that 7 percent of visas granted should be based on professional skills, so they would increase from 140,000 visas per year to 280,000.  In the medium term, the U.S. will be able to renew its own economy, inner market and reduce the need for U.S.'s "multinational companies to settle in China, India and Latin America," which would position the country again as a power in the region and a high-level world competitor after a recovery from the current crisis.

That's why countries like Canada, Australia, Singapore, Brazil and Chile have already taken relevant measures and actions to retain highly skilled professionals, which the United States seeks.

Mexico should implement better public policies to support education, to improve its education system in line with international requirements, as currently contained in any of Latin America's 150 best universities. Education is the only way by which a developing country like ours, may have access to innovation and technology generation, renewing the economy and empowerment of domestic market.

The knowledge gap between a developing country and a developed country is getting bigger and this means less chance of ensuring the welfare of all our citizens.

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