Returning Asians to fill talent gap, boost innovation

Sat Jul 4, 2009 8:31pm EDT
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By Eveline Danubrata

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - "Go East" is a message being heeded by many Asian professionals in the United States and Europe who see brighter job prospects in a region that is expected to outperform the rest of the world for economic growth.

Zhang Zheng Han, 26, is one of a growing flock of highly educated Asians living in the West who have bought one-way tickets home, lured by job opportunities, family ties and a comfortable lifestyle.

"Right now no nation is changing as swiftly as China," he said. "There are so many opportunities for people in my generation."

After getting his masters degree in engineering from the UK's Nottingham University, he came back to China and immediately began work for a stem cell research firm.

Other Asians should follow, according to American investor Jim Rogers, who co-founded the Quantum Fund with George Soros. He thinks this century will be China's and now lives in ethnically Chinese Singapore, where his young kids are learning Mandarin.

"If you're in London you're in the wrong place at the wrong time ... You gotta move east," he told Reuters TV recently.

The trend of reverse migration has accelerated in the past few months as the financial crisis has hit the United States and Europe harder than many Asian economies. This influx will serve Asia well as it needs skilled managers to leverage further growth, experts say.

"These returnees would serve as a bridge between Asia and the rest of the economies," said Irvin Seah, an economist at Singapore's DBS, Southeast Asia's largest bank.   Continued...