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Legal brain drain a global reality

STAGGERING offers for young lawyers who have been working for less time than they spent at university should be seen as a portent of things to come.

In this age of globalisation, even legal skills which were once enmeshed in the jurisdiction where they were gained have become transportable as global law firms service global clients, irrespective of geography.

If lawyers can be plucked out of the obscurity of Perth and offered a three-fold increase in salary to work in the heart of New York, then so too other professions and occupations will face the same competitive pressure for skills, if they don’t already.

Such change creates significant threats but there are also big opportunities, not just for individuals but WA business.

Obviously, the downside to such talent poaching is the gaps that such brain drains leave. It is worrying if work is lost to Perth in any area simply because the right people cannot be found to do the job.

In a social sense, the trend can also be damaging, taking young, mobile, well-educated and well off professionals elsewhere leaves a threadbare section in the fabric of our community.

All this is not really new.

WA has long sent its sons and daughters overseas for the past century or more and most of them return.

If they earn big dollars overseas, they can come back and invest it in WA, bringing new skills and experience to share with the next generation or those who stayed behind.

But it is vital the State ensures there is a climate where these people – the cream of the crop – want to return.

That means keeping everything in balance.

On the social side, crime, town planning and nightlife issues have to provide for an open city which welcomes back those who have seen the best the world has to offer.

Just as importantly, the business climate and tax rates must be maintained at levels which make WA attractive to those who have worked in more competitive environments.

This is a fine balancing act for all levels of government, to guide everything from the national economy down to the minutae of decision making at the lowest council level.

Remember, in this fast-paced world, remaining the same is like going backwards and no-one wants to return to the city of their birth to find the place has been left behind.

Local firms take fast food place

LAST year I was provided with some statistics that showed WA’s take away food sector was as competitive as anywhere in the birth place of food to go – the US.

Born out of our close ties with the US military some 60 years ago, the State’s fast food sector has thrived only too well in a community which largely expanded in the age of the car and its perfect match, the drive-thru restaurant.

Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing is a matter of conjecture.

Those in the health sector might abhor our rapid assimilation of this American cultural icon, but others might argue that the very concept of getting a meal quickly has freed up our time and widened our eyes to the idea of service.

Whatever your opinion, at least local companies have proved their worth in this sector, resisting the push of the multinationals to provide strong competition.

Our ease with this sytsem and all it entails could well explain how hybrid concepts like Dome Coffees Australia have been spawned so easily here.

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