Twenty-first-century trends in highly skilled migration

Authored by: Astrid Eich-Krohm

Routledge International Handbook of Migration Studies

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  May  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415779722
eBook ISBN: 9780203863299
Adobe ISBN: 9781135183493


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This chapter gives an overview of key research on highly skilled migration. Highly skilled migrants either have special skills based on experience in a specific field or a tertiary higher educational degree such as a Masters or PhD. For the last 50 years a growing global economy has encouraged the migration of the highly skilled around the world. Researchers have focused on the interests of key actors in the migration process: the nation state, multinational corporations, and migrants themselves. Nation-states have been increasingly concerned about a “brain drain,” in which the best and the brightest individuals emigrate to other countries either temporarily or permanently. Although this phenomenon used to be a concern primarily for developing countries, it now affects post-industrialized countries as the global competition for highly skilled employees continuous to increase. International corporations readily encourage highly skilled migration to ensure research, innovation, and development for their businesses. These goals work in tandem with national strategies to attract and retain successful businesses and employees. The motivations and career goals of the highly skilled migrants themselves play a significant role as individuals consider their place in the global world. Highly skilled migrants are often portrayed as a fortunate group based on their education and skills. However, discrimination, unemployment, offshoring of skilled jobs, and non-transferable degrees are a growing concern for this group.

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