Brain Drain by: Marilu Kercado, Natalie Ramos & Tatiana Mendez

Stop Brain Drain

By: Marilu Kercado, Natalie Ramos & Tatiana Mendez

Imagine Puerto Rico without our own professionals or any grade of expertise people. This is what’s been happening through years in Puerto Rico, the significant emigration of educated or talented individuals from this country to the United States of America, better called brain drain.

Brain drain can be simply defined as the mass emigration of technically skilled people from one country to another country. This can have many reasons, for example-political instability of a nation, lack of job opportunities and most common, the educational offerings. The massive migration of Puerto Rican immigrants to the United States began in the 20th century as a result of a long history of colonialism of Puerto Rico. Since 1493, the Puerto Rican population has been under the influence of colonial powers and moving for “better opportunities” to the States.

What Puerto Ricans doesn’t know it’s the amount of opportunities they have on the island, specifically the amount of universities and academic offerings they have for new coming students. First of all the public University of Puerto Rico accredited by the Middle States Association for Colleges and Schools with their campuses all over the island. Where they have faculties of arts and sciences, agriculture, engineering, and business administration, also have the medical sciences campus at San Juan and the School of Law.

We have the private Inter American University of Puerto Rico also with campuses all over the island. The Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico with specialization on engineering students in San Juan and also they offer institutional and vocational degrees.

These universities have maximum opportunities for college education from young to adults with diverse backgrounds and social economic and cultural rights, providing students with numerous scholarships such as academic achievement, athletic scholarships and the Pell grant, a post-secondary educational Federal grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Universities of Puerto Rico are less expensive than others of the United States, in Puerto Rico one semester costs 800 to 5,000 in the US one semester can cost 10,000 to 100,000 dollars.

High School students often move out of the country looking for better places for education, but also a high number of students stay to study in Puerto Rico. A high school student of the Adventist Academy of Puerto Rico, Paola Reyes said that she wouldn’t go to the United States because she can study what she wants here an its less expensive, and plus here she has her family more closely.

Most high school Puerto Rican students have the tendency to stay in Puerto Rico because of their families’ traditions and values. Sometimes it’s very difficult to leave a culture witch you’ve been following since kids to get into another, completely different culture you don’t know.

Some students who go to the United States come back to Puerto Rico instantly when they finished their first years and graduate. They go to study out and come back looking for job opportunities where they can be with their families. A student graduate from Cornell, Ephie Torres said she came back after graduating because she wanted to be close to her family and she said in Puerto Rico she can find better job opportunities.

An investigation made by various professors of the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez and Rio Piedra Campus stated that in Puerto Rico (PR) in term of work the brain drain of most demand are the specialized ones like is the branch of engineering. One of the common reasons of brain drain in the branches like science, engineering and business administration is the salary. In the US the salary that any of these career would get double the salary they would get in Puerto Rico.

In 2006 an investigation made by these professors also stated that in the UPRM 22% of the graduated engineering students go to US and 78% stay in PR. The ones that go to the US specialized in their branch, but the ones that stay don’t due to the high unemployment in PR.

On October 30, 2008 Caribbean Business published a report where it state that “Approximately 17% of all Hispanics who receive a Ph.D.  in science or engineering in the U.S. are UPR graduates”.  Showing that in Puerto Rico has a great education in those branches. They also a report an increase in the percentage of graduated students that goes to the US, increasing to a 40% of engineer graduated from the UPRM that goes to the US.

Another branch that lack of specialized services is the medical area. Right now in Puerto Rico there are five pediatric orthopedic doctors. Four of them located at the metropolitan area and only one in Mayagüez. They preferred to move to USA because they earn a justify salary according to their preparation.

José S. Kercadó is an electrical engineer graduated student from the UPRM in the 2002. He is currently working on a pharmaceutical in Virginia at the US as an electrical engineering. He worked in PR for almost 6 years, but in the pharmacy that he was working close, and he was almost 5 month looking for job, in need for a job he look up for job in the US until he finally find one.

“The adaptation wasn’t easy and is not easy to adapt with your own family in a place where you don’t have someone you can really trust, but my way of life improve in all aspect , Here I have my own house and my  economic situation has improve.” He said.  He started working on Virginia in 2008 and still working there. In the 6 year that he was working in Puerto Rico he was on three different pharmacies and the all of them close at the same time.

Giancarlos Perez, an computer engineer graduate from UPRM in 2005 is currently working in Puerto Rico. “Is not easy be on a stable job, in the pharmacy that I am working on has been many reduction of employment.”  He said.

He has been for five year and has no plan to go to the US in case he loses his job. His reason for staying is that in PR you can receive many federal help and in economic aspect is more comfortable. Also his tradition wouldn’t loose and his family will be close to him.

Brain Drain represents a problem in the growth of our country .These traduces in a bad quality of services, poor economy and it lets us with a population that has less education and competitiveness compared to the other countries.  It is in the government hands and private sector to find real solutions for this growing problem; if they don’t want that we become a third world country.



1 Comment

  1. Ismael Betancourt said,

    January 17, 2011 at 12:00 am01

    Another interesting fact, PR was “biggest looser” in the last census with as loss of just over 2% of the population. As you state a lot of professionals have left the country; the economy is going nowhere and add to that the ridiculous goverment bureaucracy and thats makes a perfect recipe for disaster. Honestly, I dont see end to this trend unless both major political parties with support from the population agree to major changes in government structure and economic strategy for the future. It is time for everybody to work together on this.

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