UPRM Members Discuss Brain Drain Problem

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Professor Sotomayor, on the right side, answers why companies recruit students on Puerto Rico. On the center, Professor González and Bryant Rullán on the left.

By Juan Flores Díaz

Two professors and one student, from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez, discussed the menacing brain drain phenomenon in Puerto Rico last October 17.

Dr. Orlando Sotomayor, from the Economics Department, Dr. Michael González, from the Social Sciences Department and Bryan Rullán, an undergraduate student of mechanical engineering, answered efficiently the question of the bureau at the classroom 319 of the Chardón building.

To highlight the severity of the brain drain problem, Sotomayor said that in Puerto Rico there are around 300 salaried jobs for chemical and mechanical engineering. “If you want to work as a salaried engineer, jobs are very limited and competitive,” he added.

As a result, this lack of jobs on the industry will be reflected on the salaries. On the last six years, salaries for young college educated professional have decreased a 20 to a 25 percent, said Sotomayor. Consequently, young professional will be more attracted to migrate to the United States where salaries double the ones on the island.

This leads to a loss of human capital, a decrease on production and a worst economy.  Each bachelor of those students that leave the island cost around $100,000 depending on the subject, said Sotomayor.

On the other hand, Professor González compared Puerto Rico’s life quality with Florida and New York. Basic services are more expensive in Puerto Rico because of the high price of the water, electricity services and the petroleum imported to the island.

After being involved in the business environment since he was a child, Bryan Rullán said that plans to get a job on any recognized company on the United; afterward, he would come to Puerto Rico after around 10 years to use those business skills learned and help his family’s company to expand to the states.

As a possible solution to change the University of Puerto Rico philosophy, Professor González said, “We need to encourage engineers to not only create the product but to have the knowledge of how to sell it.” González added. “The UPRM have to decide if they are going to focus quantity or quality of the students.”

Another reason that cause the migration of engineers is how well ranked is the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez. Sotomayor mentioned that the UPRM did appear on the first 500 universities of the world according to the rankings presented by the University Of Shanghai; however, the UPRM is positioned 361 on the Cybermetrics Lab in Spain.

Even though the UPRM still appear on these rankings, every year it has been lowering because many professors are leaving the university as part of the brain drain. Professor Gonzalez said that when professors who stay at the university replace the ones that leave, they become overloaded with work leaving a small amount of time to investigate.

As part of the measures that parents take to give a better life quality of their kids, they pay for private education to be sure that their children have a good education. In terms of security, even though Puerto Ricans pay their taxes to get some security from the authorities, they have to buy alarms and dogs to feel safe on their own houses.

Manuel Natal Albelo, member of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico,  told on El Vocero that he is working on a project called “Proyecto País” which want to reduce the brain drain that is making that more than 17,000 young professionals leave the island annually. He said that the project will be emphasizing on creating more Puerto Rican companies.

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