Fraser Nelson

The talent drain

The talent drain
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Good piece by Piers Morgan in today's Daily Mail about the British talent doing well in America. He quotes an American film director saying our actors are more likely to be formally trained - and then, to America, for the big bucks. From The Wire (McNulty's from Yorkshire) to Gossip Girl (Chuck Bass is from Hertfordshire), some the best known 'American' actors over there are Brits putting on an accent - it's something of a phenomenon. But it's not restricted just to acting. One of the most under-reported stories is the silent exodus of skilled Brits to countries with better state schools and safer streets. As I blogged a while back, Britain has repelled more of its high-skilled workers than any other G7 economy: or the Brits deemed to have high skills, 15% live overseas. That's the highest in the developed world bar the famously itinerant Irish and Kiwis. We won't hear so much about them: they'll be police chiefs in Canada (there are 39 Brits in the Calgary force) or company managers in Australia. 

If you're very rich, London is still a great place to live and work. But we're talking mainly about the skilled middle class, who find that their talents (and the same money) can buy them and their families a far better quality of life in the new world. We'd notice this exodus were the debate not focused so much on immigration. Sure, more come than leave, but because the figures are netted off, we are seldom given an understanding into the sheer inflow and outflow of people. So next time we have a massive 'why do Brits have such few skills' debate, or some banker is commissioned to do a review on it, it would be good if  we can acknowledge an important fact - the skills shortage is to a large degree caused by emigration. Britain does have talent - and skills. It's just that, for reasons we'd better suss out pretty quickly, Brits are using such skills as an exit visa.

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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