How is the global talent pool changing?

From:  OECD, Education Indicators in Focus, No. 5 – authors:  Pedro Garcia de León, Corinne Heckmann and Gara Rojas González

The portion of the American workforce made up of “knowledge workers” (what this study refers to as “human resources in science and technology occupations (HRST)” has long benefitted from a steady flow of well-educated immigrants.  Before 9/11 the portion of engineering PhDs, for example, awarded by US institutions to foreign-born persons reached almost 60 percent, and most Master’s and doctoral programs were highly dependent on foreign nationals for much of their enrollments. This study from OECD suggests that that trend could continue and will become all the more important as non-OECD G20 countries – Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and the Russian federation but most especially China and India – increase the numbers of 25-34 year-olds with a college degree.  By the year 2020, the number from those countries “will be almost 40 % higher than the number from all OECD countries.”  

At the same time, the non-OECD countries are looking to keep their “best and brightest” at home by expanding opportunities for employment in scientific and technological fields.  Mindful of just how dependent the US has been and could continue to be on immigration, As fraught with controversy as immigration is politically, the group, Partnership for a New American Economy ( - made up of mayors of most American citizens and a veritable who’s who of US corporations and companies - is making the case that US immigration policy must be reformed to enable the flow of talented, well-educated workers and students to come to America and remain part of the US workforce. In the absence of such a continued flow, American companies and institutions will likely have to consider locating more facilities abroad where well-educated workers will be located and work even harder to find and recruit the talent needed for global competitiveness.


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