Brain drain in our society, like in many the world over, is a prominent problem which we are not addressing effectively, since we confine ourselves to speaking about it without taking any concrete steps whatsoever. As a result, it accumulates and becomes more chronic.
At the outset, we need to stress several key points pertaining to brain drain.
First, in a world in which borders are fast eroding as a result of the abundance and affordability of means of transportation and communication, and as a result of globalisation which enables countries to hire human resources from outside their borders, mobility among countries has become easier and individuals started seeking and finding rewarding job opportunities outside their communities and outside their countries.
Attempting to prevent brain drain, thus, is mission impossible; in fact, it has become fait accompli, even part of the natural course of modern life.
Second, brain migration, be it for good or for a short period of time, will undoubtedly cause confusion or harm to those societies from which the brains are migrating, even though the amount of confusion or harm differs from one situation to another.
In principle, then brain drain does cause some damage as the exporting society will be losing competent, outstanding human resources who could be hard to replace.
Third, we hasten to add, however, that such damage may not necessarily be as inevitable or significant as some would have us believe, because those who seek and find job opportunities abroad do not always sever relations with their countries.
Many of them, in fact, as in our case, leave for the purpose of their and their families’ economic empowerment and transfer back home valuable funds used for buying homes, land, cars, businesses, etc. And when they come to visit during long vacations, they spend a lot of money in the country.
All of this affects the social and economic fabric of the country positively.
On this basis, what we consider a loss can in fact be a gain. And in the case of those who eventually come back from working abroad, they usually bring back with them new skills and new knowledge which in fact make up for the initial loss caused by their departure.
The matter of loss and gain is often more complex than one thinks.
All of the above, much of which is widely known, is important.
However, there is a dimension, lesser known, which we wish to highlight here, and this has to do with prior preparation on part of institutions and countries to lessen the loss caused by brain drain on the one hand and maximise the gain on the other.
Regarding the first part, i.e. the matter of loss, institutions need to prioritise the preparation and qualification of leaders and employees in the second, third, and fourth tiers so that when those in the first tier depart, the institution can still rely on qualified, competent staff who fill in the gap. This is a crucial matter, and most often our institutions rely on those in the first tier only thinking they would be in charge for a long time.
This short-sighted practice can be damaging, and it is high time to rectify it by prior planning.
Regarding the second point, i.e. the matter of gain, we need to start thinking seriously of brain drain as export of talent. This switch in our mindset is important.
We in Jordan pride ourselves on quality human resources, and we think of human resources as our best asset. Exporting human resources could be a mine of gold for the country, and we need to go about doing it in a carefully-planned and meticulously-executed manner.
Many countries the world over export sports talent and skilled labourers, for example. We ourselves have been doing this to an extent, but not in any organised fashion. Time to start doing so deliberately and seriously.