I have a new Opinion piece on Bernews today, a call for a National Science Strategy and a National Science Directorate.
I fear that Bermuda is at risk of a major brain drain – one that has already been ongoing for Bermudians with scientific training, but one which I fear is likely to accelerate as the economic crisis continues to squeeze and Government appears to be moving to further restrict budgets and opportunities for Bermudian scientists.
Whether this means Bermudian scientists are going to be compelled to emigrate or switch to jobs they are perhaps ill-suited for, or not passionate about (such as biologists working for IB and retraining as accountants, etc), I can’t say. Likely a mix of both.
And yet, to me, the economic crisis that Bermuda is in the midst of, presents opportunities for a renaissance for Bermudian science, laying the foundation of potential future economic sectors. Provided that there’s a political will and recognition of this potential that is.
If not, we risk knee-jerking austerity policies that are tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot in the future.
This also speaks to the wider issue of a continuing dependency on foreign consultants – we either overlook our local research capacity or fail to develop it.
This leads to a failure to accumulate local knowledge and capability – human capital.
It leads to an imposing of ‘solutions’ to local problems which are parachuted in from different contexts – something which risks the appropriateness and sustainability of such solutions for local contexts.
It also leads to a ‘leakage’ of Bermudian money overseas. Money paid to foreign consultants does not stay in Bermuda, except for perhaps a minute fraction.
Ultimately, questioning the dependency on foreign consultants is not to be xenophobic, it is to recognise that they constitute a net loss to Bermuda, in terms of lost human capital, lost money capital and even at times a waste of money, with inappropriate solutions for local ‘problems’.
Developing a National Science Strategy and a National Science Directorate are two small steps that Bermuda can take to address some of these problems.