One world-wide desire? A good job. That’swhat Gallup concluded in 2007, based on data it collected in its World Poll, anongoing effort to learn what’s on the minds of six billion people around theglobe.
It’s a startling discovery. Imagine:from Cleveland to Kandahar, from Shenzhen to Montevideo, stop random people onthe street to ask what they desire most in life, and most of them will give thesame answer. More than love, or money, or food, or safety, people wantwell-paid, satisfying work. That simple wish drives much of what people do and,increasingly, where they choose to live.
Demand for good jobs lies at theheart of “Employment, Migration and Talent,” one of the discussion sessions atthe World Economic Forum’s GlobalRedesign Summit, an international forum that was held in Qatar.A forum for policy experts and leaders from governments and internationalorganizations, the Global Redesign Initiative drew attendees from nearly 60countries. They came together to discuss how governments can better cooperatein areas such as finance, trade, employment, the environment, humanitarianassistance and security.
One thing the leaders at this summitunderstood very well is the connection between desirable jobs and economicgrowth. When people emigrate to find better work, they create a problem for theplaces they leave behind. In the 21st Century, talent is a nation’s mostcritical resource. Gifted, educated workers who seek opportunities abroad leavetheir home countries poorer, just as surely as if they had depleted the oilwells or worn out the soil.
Consider, for example, what’shappening with women. In much of the world, they’re becoming educated atgreater rates than men, making them especially important to the prosperity oftheir nations. But according to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), in every region of the world exceptNorth America, women with post-secondary educations are emigrating in greaternumbers than men. Countries throughout the world are losing sorely-neededtalent at an alarming rate.
It is possible stop this braindrain. Public policy must make it easier for talented people to secure jobsthey want. For many countries, that means creating or attracting enoughdesirable employment to persuade skilled, educated workers to stay at home. Andfor nations blessed with fine educational systems, it might also mean hangingon to the brilliant students from abroad who come to earn university degrees.“I think any foreign student who gets a Ph.D. in our country—in anysubject—should be offered citizenship,” wrote Thomas Friedman in the New YorkTimes several years ago. “The idea that we actually make it difficult for themto stay is crazy.”
Talented people want good jobs. Athriving economy demands talented people. To hold onto their most valuableresource, governments must expand opportunities for talented people to findwell-paid, satisfying work.
Greg Pellegrino is the DTT GlobalIndustry Leader for the Public Sector industry and leads the Federal GovernmentServices practice for Deloitte Financial Advisory Services LLP in the UnitedStates. Greg leads DTT’s industry focus in helping government leaders addresscritical issues impacting performance, accountability, and economiccompetitiveness.