Migration has led to the loss of skills. (in line)

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) estimates that there is a shortfall of about 80,000 truckers in the United States (US). In the United Kingdom (UK), the Road Haulage Association Limited estimates that there is a shortage of 100,000 truckers – or truckers as the British would say.

Not surprisingly, a similar story is playing out in Canada. The Canadian Trucking Alliance estimates the industry had approximately 23,000 job vacancies in 2021; this number could reach 55,000 by the end of 2023.

Barzelle Wright, president of the Port Trailer Haulage Association, recently lamented the fact that drivers are emigrating from Jamaica to the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. Wright said the migration of truckers from Jamaica is not a new phenomenon. And, with the shortage of drivers in the US, UK and Canada and the concomitant increases in their salaries, it is reasonable to expect that there will be higher levels of migration of truck drivers. Jamaicans to these countries in the years to come.

Of course, the Jamaican trucking industry is not the only sector that has been and will continue to be affected by skills migration. Indeed, Jamaica has lost many teachers, nurses and other college graduates over the years. Over the past few weeks, various stakeholders have been “ringing the bell” about the worsening skills shortage in the Jamaican economy; the construction industry has been singled out.

The late W Arthur Lewis, an economist from Saint Lucia and winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, provided a framework within which the migration of skills from Jamaica can be viewed.

Lewis’ famous model explains how an economy can experience rapid capital accumulation — physical and human — and, by extension, rapid economic growth. In Lewis’s model, there is a large pool of labor that keeps wages low in the capitalist sector. With wages kept low, companies, whether private or public, could reap large profits that are reinvested, thereby increasing capital accumulation.

While Lewis spoke of a single economy with two sectors, subsistence and capitalist, the dual economy framework can be applied to economic relations between pairs of countries – a developed economy and a developing economy – or, in other words, a developed economy and an underdeveloped economy. economy.

Developing economies are a source/pool of labor for developed economies. The enslavement of Africans in the West Indies is an example of powerful countries, capitalist if you will, benefiting from cheap labour, reaping big profits and reinvesting said profits for the sustainable advancement of their economies. The story continues today.

Without the labor pool of developing economies, developed economies would experience lower levels of growth.

This is because immigrant labor keeps wages low because they are more willing to do certain jobs without demanding higher levels of pay. In other words, immigrants have lower reservation wages than nationals. For example, we all know about the exodus of our experienced teachers and nurses who have earned a fine reputation in London and New York. Additionally, the novel coronavirus pandemic has shown the critical importance of immigrants as essential workers; workers who keep cities in the developed world running smoothly.

However, the story does not end there. Dr. Michio Kaku, a respected theoretical physicist, says the American scientific community benefits enormously from foreign scientists, whether in academia or industry. These scientists contribute enormously to research and development and, by extension, to economic growth.

Dozens of teachers and nurses have left Jamaica over the years to practice their profession abroad. (in line)

Indeed, large differences in per capita income over time have been attributed to technological advances. According to the World Bank, in 2018 the United States spent about 2.83% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on research and development; Germany, Japan and South Korea spent higher percentages. China spent 2.14% of its GDP on research and development in 2018, but has steadily increased that amount by around 0.893% since 2000.

On the other hand, developing countries like Jamaica are unable to realize their true potential. Public funds are spent on education, but a significant part of the benefits, human capital, goes to the benefit of “already greener pastures”.

Yes, remittances are received in return and are a significant amount of much needed foreign currency. However, these remittances are not likely to compensate for the vicious circle of skill loss. For example, when we lose our best and brightest teachers, it means that future generations of teachers in training and students will be disadvantaged.

The publication of the International Monetary Fund Unleashing Growth and Building Resilience in the Caribbean Note that, “[f]or in the Caribbean, net remittances and emigration have a negative effect on growth”.

So how do we do it?

The importation of labor to meet various needs is a characteristic feature of the globalized world in which we live; we cannot stop the train of migration. In addition to the physical importation of labour, we must also consider the supply of services where the supplier does not physically travel to the country requesting the service – cross-border supply, the definition of Mode 1 of the Agreement General on Trade in Services of the World Trade Organization (GATS).

So the real problem is one of volume, placement and source. How many people do we need for a given period, for what types of jobs and where will we recruit them from?

This information must be determined and is necessary for short and long term planning. It is also clear that increased efforts must be made in education and certification, from kindergarten to higher education, including vocational, remedial and continuing education. Particular attention should be given to improving the early childhood educational experiences of every child across Jamaica; every great building begins with a solid foundation. Currently, only a select few have been privileged to access excellent early childhood education opportunities.

Samuel Braithwaite

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