Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Knowledge Arms Race II: Green Card & Brain Gain

The most important resource of the future will be a well-educated workforce with skills to tackle complex regional and global problems.

In the feeble attempt of a Socratic dialogue on higher education here in South Carolina a contentious issue was the ratio of out-of- state to in-state students. The notion of fairness was evoked and unfortunately many would prefer that universities focus on what is only one of their missions: the education of South Carolinia's youth. What is completely missed in this vision is the investment in the future. What South Carolina needs are well-educated people who move here, start businesses here, educate their kids here and contribute to their communities and the state by paying taxes here in South Carolina.

Imagine the following:

Every foreigner earning a PhD from a University in South Carolina, who is in good standing, has no criminal record or outstanding warrants gets besides his diploma a temporary visa extension for 3 years if he/she settles in South Carolina. After that period he/she is eligible for a green card.

Outrageous? Well consider this:
World regions experiencing the highest net immigration are currently North America, Western Europe and the Middle East. Together these three regions account for 79.5% of world net immigration. The United States alone accounts for 37.1% of the world net total.

Want high quality immigration? Brain Gain? Consider this:
America has always benefited from immigration: 23% of all technology start ups in the Seattle area, 52 percent of all start ups in Silicon Valley and 44 percent in New York are started by immigrant innovators and entrepreneurs.

The National Venture Capital Association in 2008 found that 25% of all venture-backed publicly-traded companies started in the past 15 years were created by immigrants. It also found that 47 percent of venture-backed companies that responded to the study had at least one immigrant founder.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg remarked:

"We educate the best and brightest and then we don't give them a green card".

Thomas Friedman adds:

"...instead of stapling green cards to their diplomas, we order them to go home and start companies to compete against ours."

Make sense to you?

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