Yvona Kostelecká, Josef Bernard, Tomáš Kostelecký: The Foreign Migration of Scientists and Researchers and the Tools for Influencing Migration
In order to compete in the global labour market of top-qualified workers, many states introduce various types of targeted policies to improve the migration balance of highly qualified workers. This study attempts to contribute to the possible introduction of such policies in the Czech Republic. A key part of the study is a systematic review of the policies that different countries employ in an effort to encourage scientists and researchers working abroad to return to their native country, or at least to make it easier to pass on the information, know-how, and experiences acquired abroad to the home country. The authors drew on four different sources of information to put together this review: scientific literature, texts published by institutions with programmes of this type on their agenda, websites with information for potential programme participants, and personal correspondence and interviews with professionals working on this issue
The results of the study show that, as the role of science and research in the economic development of society becomes ever larger, it is increasingly important for a country to have an adequate supply of qualified workers capable of working in key sectors and industries. The education systems in the most advanced countries do not provide an adequate supply of qualified workers to meet the demands of research and development, and therefore they increasingly make use of policies aimed at influencing the migration of highly qualified workers – these policies are designed to prevent the brain drain or departure of high qualified people from the country to work abroad, to attract educated foreigners, and also to entice educated ex-patriots into returning home.
There are essentially two approaches that states can take to try to attract highly qualified workers to the country. The first is the individual approach, which involves using various means to encourage a particular scientist to return. The second is the general approach, which is aimed at improving the conditions for scientists to work in, and that turn is intended to appeal to scientists working abroad and motivate them into returning. While the individual approach can be characterised as short term, the approach aimed at improving the scientific working environment and the opportunities for scientists in their home country is regarded as an approach with long-term effectiveness. The actual policies themselves vary considerably in form – full qualifications being rendered conditional on a student returning to their native country after studying or working abroad, awarding scholarships to study abroad on the condition that the student returns, reintegration allowances and grants, providing counselling and information on various advantages.
The structural approach generally aimed at improving the domestic environment for scientists also covers a number of various specific policies. On a general level, either these policies focus on improving the economic situation or improving the education system in the native country, or they focus on specific areas(fields) of special significance for scientists.
These two approaches, one aimed at attracting individual scientists and the other aimed at generally improving the conditions of science and research in the home country, are often applied as complementary methods, and many states try to make use of the advantages of both approaches and unite them in one complex policy designed to influence the flow of migration of highly qualified workers. One problem is that such complex policies are often very expensive, and the developing countries most affected by the problem of the brain drain do not usually have enough financial resources to be able to compete with advanced countries. Thus far experiences with applying policies aimed at influencing the migration of highly qualified workers indicate that the best chance of success is enjoyed by those migration policies that employ a complex design, combining an individual approach, targeting individual scientist, and a structural approach, aimed at changing the domestic science and research environment, and their application in countries that, while they are not among the most advanced, have a sufficiently strong domestic foundation in science, rank among the more wealthy countries, and have an economy that shows signs of stable growth. The Czech Republic certainly ranks among such countries, and it would therefore seem to make sense for it to attempt to formulate such complex policies targeting highly educated migrants.