Issue 2, 2018. April-May



There is nothing new about skilled workers seeking better opportunities abroad. What is changing, however, is how traditional 'exporter' countries view the situation.

Like other post-Soviet countries, Georgia has experienced brain drain over the past 25 years.

A small 2012 study of Georgians living in the Czech Republic found that over 80 percent of the 117 questioned had university degrees. The number of respondents was too small to be applied in a wider context. But the report still serves as a valid illustration of a very real issue: educated Georgians working abroad instead of at home.

People have been leaving their homelands in search of a better life throughout history. Today, however, governments, including the Georgian government, are adopting strategies to either bring skilled compatriots back home or leverage their knowledge and positions abroad.

London-based Georgian designer David Koma

Efforts to improve migration management may also help to alleviate current concerns in the EU about Georgians abusing the liberalized visa regime.

The Economist has defined three things that countries want from their diaspora: soft power, investment/remittances and help developing.

'Governments believe their citizens living abroad can improve the country's reputation, increasing tourism, consumption of exports and more,' The Economist noted.

The Georgian government has created a program to engage 'high-profile' diaspora, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.

The ministry is running the program in partnership with the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) and the EU-funded project 'Enhancing Georgia's Migration Management (ENIGMMA).'

'The main aim of the program is to engage high-profile diaspora in the development processes of Georgia. The target audience consists of Georgians who have achieved professional success in destination countries and have supported the popularization of Georgia's positive image abroad,' according to the website.

Other countries, like Ireland, have been more proactive.

ConnectIreland targets 'the estimated 70 million Irish national scattered around the globe as the 'eyes and ears' of Ireland,' the BBC reported.

The program seeks to create jobs and boost economic recovery, according to the article. Even more than remittances, compatriots can help their home countries develop.

'By bringing back skills, culture and new ideas acquired abroad, they can lead the way in modernization,' The Economist stated.

'Unfortunately, expats are much more likely to return to home countries that are rich and developed, meaning the countries that need this assistance most don't get it-one study found that scientists are five times more likely to return to Taiwan than to China. The answer to this may be further incentives, such as those already being rolled out-these include visa support, voting rights and tax breaks,' it added.

In an editorial published through Project Syndicate, Dubai ruler Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum noted that skilled workers are six times more likely to stay away than to return home.

'Talent flows naturally to countries that create an environment for economic growth; that make life easy for enterprise; that attract and welcome investment; and that nurture a culture of achievement. Skills are attracted to challenge and possibility. Opportunity on this scale is becoming a scarce commodity in many parts of the West. This is not the case in the developing world - at least among countries with the determination to deploy strong governance and to raise their competitiveness,' he wrote.

'The basic ingredient,' he wrote, 'is opportunity.'