Globalization is an important factor in strategic workforce planning - it's not just a trend we can't ignore, it's a trend from which some organizations are creating advantage.  This weeks' Economist reports on a couple of recent reports by Manpower - “Relocating for Work” and “Borderless Workforce”, both looking at how globally mobile the labor market is.  No longer satisfied with just the term "brain drain", Manpower propose a total or six terms to describe the types of labor globalization they found:

  1. "Brain drain" - when a country loses more educated brains than it can replace
  2. "Brain waste" - when people go abroad to do work that pays better but is less skilled than what they would do at home
  3. "Brain export" - when educated workers leave home but more than pay for their absence through remittances, technology transfer and boosting their native countries' workforce on return
  4. "Brain globalisation" - recognition that international mobility is now an integral part of life
  5. "Brain circulation" - skilled workers moving between countries to ply their trade
  6. "Brain exchange" - when multinational firms move skilled workers between their operations in different countries

Aside from the Economist journalist's very reasonable request that there be some terms which don't include the word brain, it's food for thought, and there is a lot of good information in here about which skills, education levels and nationalities move around the globe, and why.  For strategic workforce planners dealing with any of these skills, or working in global organizations, this is great information for your environment scans.  Read the Economist article and download the Manpower reports!