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Why does our top talent stay overseas?

(People's Daily Online)

08:11, June 26, 2013


Edited and translated by Shen Qing, People's Daily Online

To attract talent back home, we need to focus on more than high-quality living conditions and work opportunities. We need reform in technology, education and talent management systems, in order to create a pleasant environment where talented people can concentrate on their research.

A piece of recent news has attracted considerable attention. The head of the Central Personnel Management and Coordination Office said during an interview that China has the highest attrition rate of its top talent in the world; 87 percent of its best scientists and engineers leave the country and stay overseas.

In the context of building an innovative country and implementing our strategy of innovation driving development, this information has aroused concern at every level. The question that needs to be addressed is why so many of our best people go to study abroad and then stay there.

The answer to that question may be found in an old Chinese saying: men struggle upwards and water flows downwards. In this context "upwards" implies factors like a pleasant work environment and a good standard of living. Especially in the high-tech industry, a pleasant work environment is extremely important.

The desire to succeed and to stand out from the crowd is a dream common to all. It is natural that scientists and engineers who have studied hard overseas and achieved academic success will want to find a good work environment to apply what they have learned and go on to greater things. These are the well-earned fruits of their years of hard work, and such ambitions reflect their personal values. Today, with the flow of talent subject to increasing globalization, it seems reasonable that high-tech achievers choose to move upwards and stay there.

Therefore, instead of directing a helpless sigh in the direction of our departing talent as it disappears overseas, we should address ourselves to our shortcomings, especially in terms of the work environment.

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