FOR many years, Zimbabwe has been battling with brain drain in almost all sectors of the economy. Key sectors including the health sector, education sector, manufacturing as well as technological sectors have all been hit hard by this predominant and recurring aspect, which seems to be difficult to address.
A few years ago, the Government of Zimbabwe introduced Education 5.0, which is meant to position Zimbabwe’s education sector at the top in the region as well as Africa, as a whole. However, despite all the efforts, which were also expected to limit brain drain, the country still finds itself grappling with this phenomenon.
The migration of skills has not spared the education sector as teachers have also flocked out of the country in search of greener pastures, thus dampening the efforts to fully take advantage of Education 5.0.
At the turn of independence and in the early 80s there was a spirit of desire to build a new nation, pulling towards one goal. There was great excitement and energy to work together as a newly found nation. There were headlines that Zimbabwe could become the future US in terms of the regional trade base because of conditions that existed in the country.
In 1981, the government had a Growth in Equity that almost equalled that of economically successful countries such as Qatar. The country had crafted economic policies that aimed to achieve a sustainable high rate of economic growth to raise incomes and peoples’ standards of living (Zimbabwe, 1981).
There was a lot of excitement in rebuilding the economy and the zeal to grow the economy was visibly in existence among young professionals. However, 15 years later, the country was subjected to inflation and the economy started to decline.
This has driven many professionals to opt to move out of the country leaving many sectors of the industries less productive.
The main cause of brain drain in Zimbabwe is unemployment. A lot of students are graduating each year and are failing to secure jobs.
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The next thing they do is to look for opportunities elsewhere. Also, when people get disenchanted with low rewards that do not suit their qualifications and experience, they are compelled to migrate to the developed countries in search of greener pastures.
The high rate of unemployment has created an employer’s market, which allows companies to pay employees lower and lower wages and this is forcing the skilled personnel to look for employment outside the country where they get better packages.
Lack of entrepreneurial skills or investments is also causing people to move out of the country.
The other cause of brain drain is lack of basic resources and opportunities for growth.
The high cost of doing business is one of the reasons causing people to move out, to escape high taxes and high rentals.
When the skilled leave the country in search of greener pastures, the country remains undeveloped. Industries continue to decline.
Many industries are fading, and the industrial buildings are being converted to schools. As the students are graduating, they do not find employment and leave the country to other countries.
If this continues to happen, our country will continue to diminish and under develop. The developed and rich countries become richer and more developed whilst the poor developing countries become poorer.
The well-skilled and educated people go to further develop the developed countries and leave their own countries deteriorating.
Industries import expensive finished goods from abroad that have been produced by fellow Zimbabweans who would have acquired skills in Zimbabwe.
The economy of the country continues to be unstable because of lack of production.
When the country fails to produce goods locally and relies on imports, the economy becomes more unstable causing high inflation and unemployment.
Instability leads to an increased rate of unemployment and inflation is also caused by brain drain.
The country is also suffering from lack of industrial growth and innovation due to brain drain.
This is a self-perpetuating cycle where one problem causes another, which in turn causes another and the third exacerbates the first and so on.
Education is supposed to equip us with skills on how we can sustain ourselves without expecting employment to be provided by the government.
The knowledge that we get from colleges and universities is supposed to mould us into innovative people, people who are eager to find what is wrong with the societies we live in and the economy at large and thrive to find solutions to the problems we face.
To solve the problem of brain drain we need to work together as a country, to create jobs and opportunities for ourselves.
We need to invest more time and resources in research on how we can come up with innovative ideas that can help to refurbish our economy.
We need to restore the productive sectors. We also need to reopen our industries, open new industries and align or exceed other countries in terms of technological advances.
Zimbabwe need not rely on other countries to provide inputs and other basic commodities.
Zimbabwe has enough skilled people and resources to help in the production of local goods be it machines, engineering equipment, clothes, food stuffs and medicines.
We need to stop or reduce imports from other countries in order for us to produce our own goods and services thus providing employment for ourselves and the generations to come and also putting our economy at a better state.
Industry should be capacitated so that consumers and other small business owners can limit imports and support the locally produced goods and services.
High imports negatively impact the local industry.
The importation of cheaper goods from other countries leaving the local companies with no market thus closing and leaving the skilled people jobless and wandering in other countries seeking employment.
To improve the economy of Zimbabwe, to provide employment to Zimbabweans and to stop brain drain requires the effort of everyone.
The only people who can help develop our country and put the economy at a better state are the citizens of the country. Until we start producing locally and buying locally, Zimbabwe will continue to diminish, there will be no jobs and brain drain will continue to increase.
The government, individuals, employers, and tertiary institutions have important roles in the development of Zimbabwe to solve the problem of brain drain.
The government needs to reduce the cost of start-ups for those who want to be entrepreneurs for example reducing the cost of obtaining licences.
Employers need to pay employees the wages that suit their skills and knowledge.
Universities and colleges should also impart students with entrepreneurial skills besides their specific areas of study. In addition, as individuals we have a role to think innovatively.
It is the responsibility of every citizen to ensure that all the sectors of the economy develop.
In as much as we might try to look for greener pastures elsewhere HOME remains HOME.
If we work together in developing the country instead of fleeing away, we can develop our economy better.
In my next article, using my own profession as a case in point, I will look at the converse side of the demand of Zimbabwean intellect across the globe.
I will consider how we can also benefit from the movement of our best skills in the controlled manner, whilst opportunities continue to be created locally.
Irimayi is an accounting graduate attached with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe. She is an avid writer with a passion for excellence.