Balance challenges of globalisation, brain drain

I am heartened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's efforts to reach out and rally youth to start young and prepare for future challenges facing Singapore ("PM Lee seeks to rally youth amid slowing economy"; yesterday).

One challenge is balancing the idea of encouraging our brightest young people to go overseas and the systemic problem of brain drain.

The Government has encouraged more Singaporeans to take on job opportunities abroad to remain competitive in the global economy.

Yet, as PM Lee once said, about a quarter of top A-level students who went abroad to study or work did not return. It is likely that this brain drain may get worse as top talent becomes more mobile.

To merely express a hope that talented Singaporeans overseas will remember their roots and come back to help their fellow countrymen will not be sufficient.

We can start by introducing greater incentives for those who give up their high-flying careers overseas to develop our local economy.

We can enhance the economic and social infrastructure to become more accepting of failure.

This will develop youth entrepreneurship to strengthen our local start-up scene, which will contribute greatly to future economic growth.

All of us can work more closely together in civil society engineering, which has been a key concern among Singaporeans abroad.

Recent initiatives such as the Comma Convention are a step in the right direction. The event at Suntec City saw young Singaporeans voice their opinions about challenges faced by Singapore.

This is an important first step for young people to play a bigger part in creating the Singapore they want to live in. This will strengthen the Singaporean core by developing openness, which will go a long way in attracting Singaporeans abroad to return.

The changes brought by globalisation will continue to transform labour markets all over the world.

Sparing no effort to capitalise on these trends will ensure that Singapore remains a key player in the future global economy.

Lionel Loi Zhi Rui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Balance challenges of globalisation, brain drain'. Print Edition | Subscribe