Each year I watch about 70% of our young graduates leaving our shores. It is fast becoming a reality that when businesses are in need of such brain-power they are forced to look outside of Guyana. The resulting effect of this brain-drain is very damaging to our country. When we are forced to bring in someone to do a job that could have been done by someone right here, we are not only increasing the cost of our projects but most notably, we are exporting our money.
The reasons people are leaving are many. Our young professionals want to feel safe, want to have a rewarding and challenging job and most of all want to be able to have some level of comfort and security.
Our institutions are doing a fair job of equipping students with the right knowledge and expertise. However, the problem arises when these students begin their job hunt. For the lucky few who have found jobs, they end up with positions that are unfitted to their level of qualifications and the remuneration is average to below par.
I believe that if incentives are given to our graduates it will encourage them to stay long enough or even indefinitely for them to give back something to Guyana. The following are some of the incentives I believe will help to reduce the problem of the brain drain: duty-free concession on the first vehicle purchase; income-tax reductions for those working in the public sector; implementation of qualification-specific minimum salary; access to funding for housing; access to funding for research and development; setting up a think tank with young professionals allowing their services to be used in the political arena but strictly in a technical manner; increasing patriotism among young professionals perhaps through reinventing the National Service or even having a sort of Peace Corps initiative; stimulating initiatives that will create scope for young professionals by funding workshops that will empower graduates to become job creators and service providers; and greater level of security. One easy way to do this is by bridging the social gap between the security services and the citizens.
It is the highest display of patriotism for graduates to remain in Guyana. I have very high respect for the people who have stayed and are working hard (and honestly) to make a life for themselves.
Sometimes it takes small changes to see big results. The task is in the hands of our leaders and policy-makers. We are counting on the President.