Slowing talent growth adds to brain drain woes

By Leslie Lau

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Malaysia ranked 36th out of 60 countries in the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Global Talent Index which saw the United States placed as the top country in producing talent, while Singapore and Nordic nations were rated stellar performers.

The Global Talent Index (GTI) report for 2011, released yesterday, also projected Malaysia’s ranking would fall marginally by three places to 39th out of 60 countries by 2015, reflecting the country’s struggle with brain drain and retaining talent.

The World Bank’s report on the country’s brain drain released last Thursday showed that the number of Malaysians with tertiary education who moved abroad tripled in the last two decades.

Two out of every 10 Malaysians with a tertiary education opted for either OECD countries or Singapore.

As of 2010, the World Bank estimated the Malaysian diaspora at about one million, of whom one-third were tertiary educated.

The talent outflow threatens to erode the country’s skills base and derail its ambition to be a developed high-income nation by 2020, more so as the loss of the nation’s “best and brightest” was not being replaced with talent inflow.

The number of expatriates in Peninsular Malaysia fell by about one-quarter between 2004 and 2010, with all the major source countries but two registering declines and in the case of advanced countries, double-digit contractions.

Malaysia’s regional rival Singapore placed fifth in the 2011 GTI and is projected to fall by just one spot in 2015.

Economists have said Malaysia needs to ensure a greater degree of meritocracy in education and employment to tackle the fundamental causes of Malaysia’s brain drain problem.

The GTI index benchmarks countries on their capacity for developing, attracting and retaining talent, both in 2011 and projected to 2015.

According to the GTI report, the foremost strengths of the US are the excellence of its universities, the high overall quality of its existing workforce and a meritocratic environment that is relatively unencumbered by restrictive labour regulation.

Denmark, Finland and Norway figure in the index top five in both 2011 and 2015, and Sweden joins them in the latter year — all thanks in part to their consistent and substantial investment in education from primary through tertiary level, the report said.

The report also said Australia and Singapore are other strong performers, the former due, among other factors, to its high-quality universities and the latter to its openness to international trade and foreign direct investment.

In its summary, the GTI report concludes that talent flourishes in, and is drawn to, developed and wealthy economies with liberal, democratic political systems.

The report states that “Asia’s performance is substantially boosted by some (although not all) of its developed countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Similarly, the Middle East is bolstered by Israel.

To validate the index results, the GTI report said the final 2011 rankings were correlated against the World Economic Forum’s country competitiveness rankings.

They were also correlated against data for the percent of a country’s population with tertiary education, as well as the World Economic Forum’s “Brain drain” indicator, which seeks to evaluate the extent to which countries struggle with talent losses.

In the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness rankings last year, Malaysia placed 26th while Singapore came in third.

  1. #1 by born in Malaya on Saturday, 7 May 2011 - 1:37 pm

    With UMNO’s racist political governance like :special rights, quota system for Malays and double standard treatment and terms like Bumis and non-Bumis base on race for all born in Malaysia citizens, all capable citizens would prefer to migrate to more fairer countries like :US or Singapore.
    UMNO ‘s race base government must go in-order for Malaysia to progress.
    All Malaysians are cheated by UMNO to agree on a special rights which are suppose to help the poor people and turn up helping only a single race. People should know which government they want during election for a better Malaysia.

  2. #2 by Loh on Saturday, 7 May 2011 - 1:50 pm

    ///As of 2010, the World Bank estimated the Malaysian diaspora at about one million, of whom one-third were tertiary educated.///

    That could probably refer to Malaysians who still hold on to their Malaysian citizenship. The number easily triple counting from the days people left since 1970 when NEP was introduced. Certainly the other two million are paying taxers to their adopted country. Even without them UMNO government claims that Malays cannot compete with the leftovers. Is it gene, or is it environment? Most probably it is politics; how else can these politicians claim to be champion if their followers are not weak. Ironically it pays to be weak.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Saturday, 7 May 2011 - 1:59 pm

    The government is unlikely to be able to solve the brain drain woes when Talent Corp denies that the NEP and social injustice is the main cause of Malaysian professionals migrating to more fairer countries.

  4. #4 by Loh on Saturday, 7 May 2011 - 4:16 pm

    Talent Corp are only interested in having Muslims professional coming into the country. There is two-fold increase of Bangladeshi coming to Malaysia when non-Muslims expatriates are leaving.

    Talent Corp is no different from Project M in terms of changing the racial composition in the country. It concentrates now on educated Muslims.

    Whatever the government denies, it is not true. Whatever the government approves, it becomes a fact. There is no corruption in the country, according to the government , so that is a fact. NEP is not racist but under NEP house price differs according to race; is it not discriminatory? If people leave the country because of discriminatory policies, and NEP is responsible, and in fact the mother of all racial discriminatory policies, can NEP be irrelevant to the exodus of non-Malay talents from Malaysian shore? NEP will be UMNO policy as long as it is not dethroned.

  5. #5 by Ray on Saturday, 7 May 2011 - 5:19 pm

    As long as Umno Ruled Putrajaya Malusai, Keris swearing power fear Tactics ,there is NO Future in Malay Malusia TakBoleh land lah…..

  6. #6 by ktteokt on Saturday, 7 May 2011 - 10:11 pm

    But Najis and his gang are still DENYING that brains are going out of BOLEHLAND!

  7. #7 by -e- on Sunday, 8 May 2011 - 12:04 am

    Malaysia agrees to take Australian asylum seekers (AFP, May 7)

    we have received the outsourced australian radioactive waste and we are now going to get australian refugees!!!!!

    the australians are smart to break the smuggling chain as priority. only stupid malaysia agrees to take the deal. nr really short vision.

    “first stop malaysia, stay as you wish.”

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