Volume 44, Number 172,
January-March 2013
The Migration of Qualified Workers
as an Obstacle to Development
José Luis Hernández

They divided staff between A, B and C players. The A players were considered crucial to the future of the company. Every effort is made to retain this group through generous compensation, interesting assignments and career development. ‘You have just got to decide that those people are our future, and whether they are kind of A players or they are kind of high-potential people lower in the organization, those are the people that we are going to pay, you know, whatever.” The B players are the engine house of the company; they get things done and need to be treated with dignity and paid at a competitive rate. It includes engineering talent with extensive experience, but ‘they usually are folk that don’t really want to lead the charge.’ The C players are the underperformers. ‘You don't see a C player in this organization for too long, you either shape up or ship out.” They don’t spend much time on helping the Cs shape up because the problem is rarely seen as a lack of skills but about attitude, commitment and getting along with colleagues. ‘It usually isn’t as much about technical skill; it is about sort of chemistry, attitude, ability to see the bigger picture, being prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck into things, so it is usually for those reasons that it falls apart.

Obtaining maximum profits and surviving in the fight to compete requires multinational companies to have proper worker profiles. They often must find them abroad. In a study performed on 38 of the top 100 companies in the world (excluding the financial sector) from 1995-2007, Brown, Lauder and Ashton (2011: 87) found that: “the proportion of foreign workers increased from 47.5 to 60.1.”

Still, the States of developed countries have prioritized, depending on the time, different profiles and origins for qualified personnel, not only for economic reasons, but also for political, religious and cultural motivations. For example, the United States H-1B Visa has favored the entrance of people from India and China. Following the events of September 2001 in New York, they restricted entry for those coming from Arab countries. Of the H-1B visas granted in 2002, Sahay (2009: 103) found that:

The typical beneficiary of the H-1B was born in India, 30 years old, college degree, worked in a field related to computers and received an annual income of $53,000. Moreover, 24% of those beneficiaries born in India had a college degree or master’s and worked in a field related to computers. Interestingly, before the September 11 attacks in the United States, they made up 41% in the fiscal year 2001. Likewise, the beneficiaries that kept their H-1B status were one year older and earned 15,000 dollars more per year than typical beneficiaries.

For everyone else, the events of September 2001 were also clearly reflected in the data presented by the author, who highlights growth in the number of those coming from Mexico (the only Latin American country among the top ten countries of origin) admitted with the H-1B visa. This figure went from 3,082 in 2002 to 17,917 in 2004, while the number of Pakistanis fell from 3,810 to 2,443, respectively (Sahay, 2009: 103). In other words, while Pakistanis and Mexicans received more or less the same number of visas in 2002, just two years later the figure had fallen for the former group and significantly increased for the latter.

On the other hand, the way in which multinational companies treat underdeveloped countries that are creating science and technology differs from how they treat developed countries. According to Gutiérrez (2006: 57), when a subsidiary of a multinational firm is installed in a country that is not its place of origin, it requires “a specialized labor force and a service structure, as well as to integrate providers into the environment that are not necessarily from the region,” especially in underdeveloped countries, where:

... in general, there are no industrial conglomerates that allow for the transfer of knowledge and technology, nor are there are a large number of local companies with the capacity to join the network as providers. This brings about the installation of a multinational company in a certain region that is accompanied by first and second order provider companies, from the original country or other developed countries that are global providers and for whom there exists a close relationship, basically supported on the knowledge and experience of joint work.

In this way, the installation of a subsidiary in an underdeveloped country brings with it the mobility or circulation of qualified workers that are needed to implement the company and the first and second order provider firms, at minimum.

As such, the condition of underdevelopment, that is, the absence of the generation of technology and knowledge applicable to production in countries such as Mexico, necessarily becomes a problem for generating well-paid jobs in sectors with highly qualified employees. Moreover, this is both the origin and consequence of a lack of close cooperation between universities and productive sectors in developing their own science. The excess of professionals is an unavoidable result.

Licencia de Creative Commons  Problemas del Desarrollo. Revista Latinoamericana de Economía by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Published in Mexico, 2012-2018 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Moritz Cruz. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: January 9th, 2019.
The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect those of the editor of the publication.
Permission to reproduce all or part of the published texts is granted provided the source is cited in full including the web address.
Credits | Contact

The online journal Problemas del Desarrollo. Revista Latinoamericana de Economía corresponds to the printed edition of the same title with ISSN 0301-7036