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Last updated: 06.23.2005.

International mobility new opportunities

Elissaveta Gourova

(Abstract)

  The mobility of the highly-skilled is part of the process of globalization and leads to better knowledge transfer. In the last few years it attracts the attention of policy makers in several countries. The EU has taken various actions in order to promote the mobility of the highly-skilled within Europe and to turn the present tendency of brain-drain into brain-circulation and even brain-gain.

   Besides the economic, social and policy reasons behind the general migration flows, the highly-skilled are attracted in other countries by better technology environment and access to knowledge, opportunities for career development and international networking. The Central and East European countries (CEEC) migrants had their specific reasons to leave the country in the last 10 years based on political instability, economic restructuring, raising unemployment and worsening quality of life. However, with the advancement of reforms and the entry into the EU of most of them the situation has changed and these factors are loosing their importance for migration decisions. 

            The scarce and not comprehensive data about mobility of the highly-skilled show that the migrant workers in the EU coming from CEECs have higher qualification levels than the other migrant workers. Generally, there are limited risks for the CEEC of loosing high numbers of highly-skilled people. As the US immigration statistics show the danger is higher for Bulgaria, which has continuing high outflow of qualified specialists.

            The mobility has large positive impact for both sending and receiving countries. The brain-drain from the sending country can be compensated by transfer of knowledge and technologies from abroad, by large incoming remittances, sometimes higher than foreign direct investments. Mobility of the highly-skilled, although increasing the competition in the receiving country, has favorable impact on entrepreneurship, diversity and creativity, as well as on its labor market and science.

            For Bulgaria it is important to learn how to gain from the mobility of its highly-skilled professionals and to turn the mobility into advantage. There are several country success stories, which could help for developing a holistic policy approach, combined with active institutional support and large partnerships. It remains the question how to use the traditions and the available competences in a better way in order Bulgaria to become something more than supplier of brains in the enlarged EU.  

   
   
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