In a knowledge-based economy, where new ideas and scientific knowledge are central to innovation and growth, investment in human resources in science & technology (S&T) is an essential factor to remain competitive. Europe is top of the class as the world’s biggest ‘S&T brain factory’ with graduate numbers (2.14 million in 2000) above that of the US (2.07 million) and Japan (1.1 million). In fact, 26% of all graduates in Europe come from an S&T field in comparison with 21% in Japan and 17% in the US. In addition, the number of S&T graduates grew significantly faster in the EU during the 1990’s than in the US & Japan. Keeping this pool of talent in Europe remains a challenge and innovative measures are being implemented at national and EU levels to enhance the attractiveness of research careers. But how trustworthy are claims that Europe is suffering from a “brain drain”?
Mobility trends: key facts
In 2001, more than 26.000 specialised workers entering the US were from the EU-15 and more than 7.300 from the Acceding countries. The number of Europeans who earn their doctorate in the US and choose to stay abroad is also high. Among the 15.000 EU-born US doctorate recipients who graduated from 1991 - 2000, some 11.000 reported plans to remain, while the Central & Eastern European figure was 70%.
Some see this as evidence of a worrying ‘brain-drain’. Few would argue that the loss of highly-skilled researchers entering the most productive period of their careers is a good thing. Looking at these figures more closely, however, we can see that absolute numbers are quite small when compared with the 40 million tertiary educated EU citizens.
Fabio Fabbi | EU Commission
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