Youth activist pushes for free movement, retention of highly skilled workers within Caribbean region

SVG lecturer says free movement of highly skilled workers can be capitalized on; suggests governments find ways to entice skilled diaspora to “keep in tune” with home 

KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES — Caribbean countries should facilitate the free movement of skilled workers while also finding ways to encourage their skilled diaspora to remain within the region instead of leaving forever, urged Aria Laidlow, a youth activist and lecturer.

A group of businesspeople.

Speaking to the “free movement of our people” at a recent World Bank panel, Laidlow said, “I think that this is something that we can really continue to capitalize on, and although there have been some successes, there have been challenges and barriers.

“I think it is important that if our highly skilled and highly trained and highly educated people would like to go to our neighboring countries, that it should be done in a way that is not hassling at all, but also we need to talk about things such as the ease in which persons are able to do that.”

Citing challenges such as airplane ticket prices and difficulties in “the ease at which persons can transition and live within our countries”, the SVG native added, “We need to think about how we can break down some of those barriers.”

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    Skilled diaspora highly desirable

    The challenge lies not only in facilitating the free movement of skilled workers, Laidlow noted, but also in preventing such skilled individuals in the diaspora from permanently leaving the region altogether.

    Youth Activist and Lecturer Aria Laidlow.

    Laidlow acknowledged that “emigration and persons moving out of the region is not going to end”, opining, “It is something that is going to persist until the end of time, I think. But I think what is very important is how do we keep our diaspora home.

    “Dr. the Honorable Keith Mitchell (prime minister of Grenada)…pleaded with doctors and nurses to ‘come home, come home to Grenada; we need you’. How do we keep our diaspora in touch with home?

    “How do we keep track of our highly skilled and highly educated people? They go away and that’s it. Can we create platforms where persons can meet, persons can network in different specialty areas and what sort of benefits maybe government can have for persons who are highly skilled within the diaspora to keep them in tune with home?

    “So, I think those are some things that our governments need to consider…in ways in which we can really generate the jobs that we need for tomorrow, but also how can we keep our people within the region.”

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