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Howard's End: Bringing Kiwis Home

Here we go again! - rushing from one perceived disaster to another. The so-called brain drain is part of being a paid-up member of the global village and it's been around for more than 20 years - affecting all countries. John Howard writes.

Look around you - every country in the developed, and not so developed, world is suffering from a loss of talent - the so-called brain drain.

It's not unusual because today human resources are almost as mobile as monetary resources.

From Canada, to the UK, to Europe, to Asia, to the United States, people, particularly young people, are moving around inter-state and inter-country.

About 20 years ago increased foreign investment throughout many different countries led to rising disposable incomes.

High-end manufacturing companies that were basically investing internally, suddenly started to invest off-shore. Globally, it became easier to move capital investment from one country to another.

In Thailand, for instance, much of their investment came from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. In the mid 1990's many of their big investment projects and joint ventures came from the US.

Accordingly, human resource requirements for experience in science and technology soared. And so it is now in most of the rest of the world.

Make no mistake, it is serious because our developing companies and entrepreneurs need good talent. But so do the companies and government organisations in other countries.

So, instead of gnashing our teeth and counting our worry-beads we should be looking at ways of enticing back to New Zealand those who have been overseas for some years and might now want to return.

Kiwi's with bilingual abilities, knowledge of multinational enterprise objectives, and a good work ethic will make invaluable contributions and bring the best of both worlds to their new Kiwi job.

But bringing them home is not an easy task as most are firmly entrenched in their new countries. Many have foreign spouses. Others have children who have been born in other countries and do not understand the "kiwi way."

It will be very difficult for these people to uproot families to start over, yet again.

But believe it or not, New Zealand does have success stories of those who have left to further their work experience and education, picked up ideas, learned from others success or failures and returned home to implement their business strategies.

Despite their overseas success I'm told returning kiwi's still go through many frustrations.

But if we are to continue with development we need more of them to return so we'll have to make it easier for other Kiwi nationals to follow.

The first step, in my view, is to establish a permanent "Foundation For the Future" tasked with planning initiatives and identifying opportunities for those ex-pat Kiwi's and their families who want to return.

The Foundation should have as its objective to network, support and coordinate with other organisations, better the nation by utilising the skills of Kiwi's who have already returned or of those still living overseas, to help Kiwi's who are thinking of returning home by preparing a Welcome Home Kiwi package of information.

Somebody, I forget who, said " If not here - where? If not us at this time - who? If not now - when? Let us begin

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