Indo-German Business Talk: Education and Economic Migration

Education plays a vital role in the economic development and migration of recipient and sender countries. The former being a country that attracts talented individuals from foreign countries and the latter being countries that have a significant percentage of their population moving overseas.

The International Organisation for Migration’s 2022 World Migration Report states that ‘with nearly 18 million people living abroad, India has the largest emigrant population’. Arguably, the outward-looking nature of many Indians stimulates a phenomenon in their home country known as ‘Brain Drain’; defined commonly as the departure of professionals from one country to another. In turn, this leaves India in a situation where the majority of its talented population are using their skills abroad and not ‘serving’ their home country.

On the other hand, one country’s brain drain is another’s brain gain. In this case, Germany (and many other countries), are undoubtedly benefiting from their receiving of foreign talent. What implications do these phenomena have on the economic development and educational progress of a recipient or sender country?

These topics were discussed in our most recent Indo-German Business Talk on 26 July with expert panellists: Dr Sarthi Acharya from the Institute for Human Development; Dr Wido Geis-Thöne from the German Economic Institute; Silvia Niediek from iMOVE at the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training; and Dr Vidya Yeravdekar from Symbiosis International University.

The German government campaigns for recruiting skilled labour in so-called ‘focus countries’ and in this regard many hopes are placed on India.

Silvia Niediek, Regional Manager South Asia, iMOVE

Our panellists and questions from the audience stimulated thought-provoking discussions on topics of the importance of quality education, the benefits of vocational education and the need for a perception change in India in attaining a vocational degree in comparison to a traditional, academic degree.

We [India] haven’t been able to do a catch-up despite that we’ve had such a head start, because the best of the people are leaving the country.

Dr Sarthi Acharya, Professor (Delhi Chair), Institute for Human Development

The main thing would be to improve the German education system in the English language. We still have the problem in international cooperation that the English skills of many Germans aren’t that good… We have more people coming from India to Germany… and the most important thing is to understand each other.

Dr Wido Geis-Thöne, Senior Economist, Family Policy and Migration Issues, German Economic Institute

There are many prospects for Indo-German collaboration here, with India’s welcoming of foreign university campuses that could boost its offerings and quality of education, learning from Germany’s vocational scheme and the importance of nurturing Indian talent to motivate them to share their skills at home, whether this is through revisiting salary structures or changing cultural perspectives. India is also a receiver of foreign students and should consider their post-study work visa offerings to utilise their own international student population.

The talent goes out because they get to work in the industry all over the world. So on one side, we’re [India] talking about providing a global human resource but we’re not really ready to accept a global human resource back in India.

Dr Vidya Yeravdekar, Pro-Chancellor, Symbiosis International University

The entire Webinar can be watched via YouTube (see below) where you can also contribute to the discussion in the comments.

The Indo-German Business Talk is a monthly webinar, free to panellists and audience members. Subscribe to our Mailing List to be informed of future discussions.

Interested to learn more about the topic? The IGC sponsors the Podcast, Business Diplomacy Today, where Episode 13 dove into economic migration and its governance on a global scale. Take a listen here.