“Brain Drain” and its Impact on Leadership in the USVI and BVI.

“Brain drain” is a word that is used to describe a situation whereby a country’s bright minds migrate to other countries in search of better job opportunities or a safer environment. In the British Virgin Islands and the United States Virgin Islands, this is a major problem affecting them and the region and its economy at large. The problem also threatens to rob the region of its brightest minds and youthful workforce for several reasons.

For example, an employee in one company would realize that another company pays better than the one they are working in, hence deciding to seek an opportunity there (Young, 2020).

Causes of Brain Drain

Different people have diverse reasons for migration. Some of these reasons include; professional attraction in foreign countries, joblessness in home countries, social-economic conditions, ecological conditions, macroeconomic conditions, collaboration, government policy and state academic system (Rinkevicius, 2006).

A good example of professional attraction is when a health care worker moves to another country in search of a better standard of living and high quality of life, access to advanced technology, and higher salaries. As a result, it affects negatively the country from which the health care worker has moved since it had invested in his or her training. This translates into a loss of human resources (Dodani, 2005).

State academic system; there’s an increase in the number of international students. Most move to other countries in search of a better education. More often than not, most of them end up applying for residency in the receiving countries. The latter benefits from the students since they provide a financial contribution that enables higher education institutions to undertake research.

Government policy; there are policies that do not promote invention and entrepreneurial activities. When an investor realizes that a neighboring country has better policies which would lead to the growth of his/her work, he/she would prefer to go work in that country. The country could also have a better market for his/her products, thus promoting production.

COVID-19, the current pandemic, will lead to an increase in brain drain soon. The pandemic has affected organizations, businesses, communities and at large the global economy. Most companies have downsized, leaving many individuals jobless (Nicola, 2020). As some state above, joblessness is among the many causes of brain drain.

Effects of Brain Drain on USVI

It is important to take note of the fact that in the United States Virgin Islands there is an imbalance of the workforce and a majority of the people are old (70%). There is also an influx of outsiders (20%) who are professionals and last, there is a loss of qualified individuals (10%) who are qualified (Jeffers, 2015). People have been migrating from USVI because of lack of employment, low salaries, and opposition political groupings.

USVI has lost professionals required for national development. A huge percentage of qualified doctors, nurses, and teachers have migrated because of low salaries. They realize that the sacrifices they made and the skills they acquired are not worth the jobs and salaries offered.

Regression of socioeconomic progress. The governor who is elected sends home the employees of the opposition leader and replaces them with the opposition supporters. This hinders the younger, educated, and ambitious leaders from exercising their leadership skills. As a result, the growth rate of the economy slows down.

Effects of Brain Drain on BVI

The British Virgin Islands has been affected by Brain Drain in the following ways; loss of critical health and education services, loss of the country’s investment in education, loss of

innovative ideas, shortage of important skilled workers, and loss of potential future entrepreneurs (Ryta, 2017).

When doctors, nurses, and teachers migrate from a country, health and education services are compromised, respectively. A country that does not promote investment indirectly chases away investors, and this results in the loss of innovative ideas.

Brain Drain Solutions

There are various strategies to discourage brain drain. They include research funding, improving health facilities, improving career structures, working on intellectual stimulation, minimizing threats of violence, and ensuring there is good quality education for children in the home country.

Improved career structures will enable a state to absorb individuals who get their education in that country. This is to means that talented people who are born, raised and educated in a home country will not leave and seek employment elsewhere when it comes time to work and give back what they were provided. Innovations are important as they “uncover alternative solutions to traditional problems” (Grozeva, 2008).

Improved health facilities will encourage the health care workers to work in their home country. Besides working on the facilities, the government should also look into their salaries to prevent countries with seducing payments from absorbing them as easily as they do.


Brain drain is the emigration of highly skilled people from one country to another where there are better opportunities. Logue, a leader in USVI, believes brain drain is a social problem, but also derives from political and economic stability. According to him, policies should be innovative and incorporate a variety of identified issues such as “Programs that encourage workers to go abroad…… infrastructure to make it easier to send remittances home, and programs to develop domestic capacity and work opportunities” (Logue,2009).


Nugent, W. (2020). Virgin Islands “brain drain” has causes we could change. The Virgin Islands Daily News. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from http://www.virginislandsdailynews.com/opinion/virgin-islands-brain-drain-has-causes-we-could-change/article_e79ce907-a7fb-5b1d-9a44-6ad3f5199e62.html.

Mukasa, L. (2020). Can the Caribbean end its brain drain? — Voice Online. Voice Online. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from https://www.voice-online.co.uk/news/world-news/2020/02/16/can-the-caribbean-end-its-brain-drain/.

Jeffers-Knight, S. (2020). Government Senior Executives’ Perceptions of Brain Drain on Leadership in the United States Virgin Islands. ScholarWorks. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/dissertations/545/.

Roopnarine, L. (2020). United States virgin islands migration. Research Gate. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286987963_United_States_virgin_islands_migration.

Mishra, P. (2020). Emigration and Brain Drain : Evidence From the Caribbean. IMF. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WP/Issues/2016/12/31/Emigration-and-Brain-Drain-Evidence-From-the-Caribbean-18662.

Miller, R. (2020). Could COVID-19 trigger a bigger ‘Brain Drain’ of Caribbean nurses?. Caribbean News Global. Retrieved 17 November 2020, from https://www.caribbeannewsglobal.com/could-covid-19-trigger-a-bigger-brain-drain-of-caribbean-nurses/.





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Nathan Mwangi


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