Thursday 6th March, 2008


Best educated leave Caribbean to make mark elsewhere

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College educated Caribbean nationals continue to leave the region in droves, recent data obtained by CWN indicate.

Latest data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an analysis of the characteristics of the population of 28 OECD countries around the year 2000, by country of birth, show the brain drain continues in the region, including even the smaller Caribbean nations.

Of the 790,000 Jamaican migrants estimated to be living in OECD nations in 2000 according to A Profile of Immigrant Populations in the 21st Century, those with a higher education level were put at just about 25 per cent. It was the highest number for the English-speaking Caribbean. Of the 303,000 Guyanese migrants overseas in 2000, those tertiary educated topped the 25 per cent mark.

T&T, ranked third in the 2000 migration scale, with 274,200 nationals in OECD nations. But of that number, a whopping 30 per cent were tertiary educated. In fact, T&T migrants accounted for more than 45 per cent of the humanities and social sciences graduates, according to the report, which also looked at the top 50 countries with most qualified nationals in the OEC grouping.

Jamaican migrants or 42 per cent were also qualified with degrees in humanities and social sciences while a whopping 47 per cent of Guyanese migrants who live in OECD countries were also graduates in the same field.

T&T, Jamaica and Guyana were the only Caribbean nations to make that list.

Analysts say based on their survey of migration data, islands such as Jamaica, Haiti and T&T, have more than 40 per cent of their highly-skilled populations abroad.

Twenty per cent of Haiti’s 463,000 migrants overseas in 2000 were college educated while more than 27 per cent of the 88,000 plus Barbadians who migrated as of 2000 had a tertiary degree. The Bahamas suffered a worst fate, with some 30 per cent of the 30,000 in OECD countries in 2000, having a college degree.

Meanwhile, the smaller Caribbean nations also suffered the brain drain. Smaller Caribbean islands such as Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados and St Lucia also have very high emigration rates. St Kitts lost 28 per cent of its 20,000 college educated nationals, who left in 2000 while more than 22 per cent of Dominica’s college educated made up the almost 26,000 who skipped out.

Of the 35,000 plus nationals from St Vincent who migrant, a quarter of them were college educated while more than 21 per cent of the 24,000-plus St Lucians, who left, are also tertiary educated.

Suriname’s estimated 7,000 OECD migrants in 2000 were largely tertiary educated—some 31.5 per cent of the total—as were the 32 per cent of the 2,000 BVI nationals and more than 25 per cent of those from the USVI’s 48,000. Anguilla and Aruba lost a small number of people to OECD nations as well, but more than 40 per cent of them were tertiary educated.

Efforts by OECD countries to attract highly skilled workers affect the supply of skilled people in the countries these workers leave which are often among the poorest in the world, the report concluded.

However, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico have less than 15 per cent of migrants with a tertiary diploma, while the Turks & Caicos had just above 16 per cent. Montserrat has just over 11,000 overseas in 2000 with more than 19 per cent being college educated.

The report also revealed that the majority of doctors migrating to OECD countries are from the Caribbean at expatriation rates above 50 per cent, means that there are as many doctors born in these countries working in the OECD area as there are working in their home countries.

Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada and Guyana were in the top three position, while doctors, from T&T, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Jamaica and Barbados rounded out the top 20 list of top migrant doctors. They ranked at 9th, 11th 12th 14th and 15th, respectively.

Caribbean countries with small populations, notably Jamaica and Haiti, send a good number of nurses abroad, the report added.

Caribbean countries, having relatively small populations while being located close to very big and much richer economies, have the largest emigration rates: almost one-third of people born in Jamaica or Puerto Rico live abroad in an OECD country.

For his part, OECD Secretary-General, Angel Gurria, urged governments of the group of nations to do more to help immigrants integrate and make better use of their skills.

In practically all OECD countries, immigrants across the board were found to be more likely to be overqualified for their job than a person born in that country.

Most Caribbean nationals largely end up working in the personal and social services sector compared to their Mexican counterparts, who end up in the agricultural sector, the report’s authors said.

But Caribbean nationals from nations with higher migration rates end up working more in the social services and personal sector, in jobs in the healthcare, child care, education and other personal care industries. —CaribWorldNews

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