Puerto Rico Officially Joins LinkedIn To Combat STEM Brain Drain
While Latinos remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs and professions in the U.S., Puerto Rico is having a different sort of problem: U.S. recruiters are stealing away with Puerto Rican STEM graduates. But the island's government is trying to end the brain drain, using LinkedIn as a tool.
That's according to an interview with Alberto Bacó-Bagué published this week by Forbes contributor and frequent interviewer of global leaders, Rahim Kanani. Bacó-Bagué, Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce for the Government of Puerto Rico, described in the interview how Puerto Rico has turned to LinkedIn, the social media network geared towards professionals, to address the STEM brain drain that is affecting the island.
The problem is that, "beautiful island" (as described by Bacó-Bagué) though it may be, talented Puerto Rican graduates of STEM programs are being lured to the U.S. mainland by tech recruiters looking for bilingual Latinos who are experts in the kind of forward-looking fields that a STEM education provides. This phenomenon only compounds the larger social and economic problems facing the unincorporated U.S. territory.
But Bacó-Bagué and the Administration of Governor Padilla "are determined to keep talented Puerto Ricans in Puerto Rico. We have the education, resources, incentives, passion and vision needed to reverse this pattern," said Bacó-Bagué to Kanani.
The government has released a plan to help develop Puerto Rico's entrepreneurial culture, Bacó-Bagué said, starting with launching an official LinkedIn page for Puerto Rico. The move is an attempt to think outside the usual confines of government, said Bacó-Bagué, and simultaneously keep STEM-trained Puerto Ricans in the territory while attracting new investment from the U.S. and elsewhere.
Here's Bacó-Bagué's thinking on making Puerto Rico the latest government entity to officially join LinkedIn as he told Forbes:
"Advances in technology, programs and applications have enabled the private sector to connect with more important stakeholders in new, more effective ways. Likewise, the use of tools like LinkedIn will allow us to more efficiently share, engage with and connect individuals outside of the public sector. We want to learn the best practices that have been honed and perfected by the private sector and apply that knowledge efficiently in the public sphere. Also, we are maximizing the LinkedIn tool as it allows us to centralize all aids, guidance and orientation to small and medium size business entrepreneurs all in one place becoming the main 'hub' of information available to entrepreneurs at all times."
The long-term plan is to make Puerto Rico as well known for forward-looking entrepreneurship "as it is for outstanding Caribbean rum and picturesque beaches," as Bacó-Bagué proudly told Kanani. "We hope to see a marketplace driven by local businesses employing local workers. Local businesses, which are diversifying our economy, will position Puerto Rico as a highly competitive workplace worldwide," added Bacó-Bagué.
Puerto Rico isn't the only government using LinkedIn to reach businesses, investors, and entrepreneurs -- as strange as that might seem. Several local government entities, including those of Denver and North Central Texas, are officially registered on LinkedIn, along with U.S. states like Wisconsin. Canada's government is there, too.
On the flip side, LinkedIn isn't the only social media or web service the Government of Puerto Rico uses: Twitter, Facebook, and TripAdvisor are all part of Puerto Rico's diversified plan to get its economy back on track and set it in motion towards the digital future.
Check out more from Kanani's interview with Puerto Rico's Bacó-Bagué here at Forbes.
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