Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Stop the Brain Drain In Detroit by Akindele Akinyemi

Brain drain is one of the greatest threats to economic development in Detroit. The need to reverse brain drain and re-position Detroit in the 21st century cannot be overemphasized. As Detroit embarks on a radical project to redeem itself from poverty, underdevelopment, disease, hunger, and backwardness, the problem of brain drain is urgent and merits high-level attention.

Sustainable development will be achieved in Detroit if the city takes drastic moves to harness and take full control of its resources in conjunction with the international community, Detroit regional groupings and Detroit professionals both at home and abroad. Detroit will not develop without its doctors, engineers, scientists, nurses, professors, accountants, information technologists, teachers, business executives, architects, social workers and so on. Detroit must begin to embrace regionalization and then explore concrete ways of converting the “brain drain” into “brain gain”.

Academic institutions and learning

Detroiters who are involved in education should be encouraged to participate in the well being of developing an international way of thinking. This can be achieved through establishing networks with academics in places like Africa, Asia and Europe, organizing visits, making joint appointments with international institutions; providing graduate students with research materials from the Diaspora; promoting inter-university linkages, co-authorship and co-publishing with colleagues in various parts of the world. Detroit should consider “de-linking” its educational system from a factory model way of instruction and values but rather domesticate, overhaul and redesign the school curriculum to one that meets international needs. Detroit must promote research and allocate sufficient resources and incentives to individual researchers who excel. Currently, Detroit Public Schools are not promoting research and this stifles development.

Economic measures

Detroit should institute policy frameworks for improving and stabilizing their economic environments by promoting a conducive economic environment, establishing policies and procedures that promote accountability and transparency and providing incentives to citizens working abroad to invest in the continent.

Political initiatives

Good governance, democracy, economic justice, peace, security and stability in Detroit are paramount in curbing brain drain. Educators, economic leaders and statesmen (not politicians) should sensitize their citizenry about socialist machinations and inculcate the spirit of economic freedom and faith to their citizens through the introduction of Civic Education as a compulsory subject starting from primary school level through to the university.

Skills export policy

Since other countries are competing with Detroit for skills, leaders in Detroit should formulate skills export and import policies that promote and provide the framework for training of human resources in their countries for international as well as local labor markets.


Leaders in Detroit should ensure that academics and professionals that are educated and trained at public expense work in the country for a certain period after completion of their training. Adding extra years for industrial attachment and internship in all critical areas like medicine, engineering and science among others might help delay emigration.

Data base and Foreign Earnings

Detroit should create an accurate and continuing data base of its economic capital. This will help decision-makers to formulate policies for areas where brain drain is negatively affecting human development priorities.

Repatriation of Detroit professionals and intellectuals through developing international financial markets

Detroit must develop and resuscitate economic agendas to initiate the return of qualified Detroiters to work and build Detroit into a international financial market like Hong Kong or Singapore.

Detroit should cause regional leaders to draw up an economic resource strategy, geared to promoting the efficient utilization, retention and development of critical skills with a view to promoting development in Detroit. Regional leaders must forge partnerships with all social and economic institutions and the private sector with the aim of repatriating Detroit professionals and intellectuals interested in returning home to offer their skills.

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