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About Hristina Petrova

My personal motto is "Human Capital Matters: Invest & Upgrade", investment considered broadly. As a sixth-generation citizen of Europe's second oldest capital city, Sofia, I have developed a fairly good intuition about people and ideas.
I am interested in highly skilled migration policies and trends (esp. points-based systems and emerging markets), as well as in intl students' mobility/migration, strategic HRM, lifelong learning, personal development and information intelligence. I started a blog ( where you will find articles on recent migration trends in emerging economies in LatAm and Asia (more articles on traditional migrant-receiving countries will be published in the autumn of 2012), key resources for finding meaningful education resources, work, tourism and expat guides.
Whenever there is a political debate, highly skilled migration alone is rarely the subject of discussion. Despite being a subcategory in migration, it is more closely related to skills accumulation than to general migration since it rhymes with knowledge, (technological) innovation, economic growth and cultural diversity. That is why the competition to attract and retain highly educated(trained) people has become a global issue, with any single policy implementation having a chain effect on competitors’ policies.
As a result of the globalization driven knowledge-based economy and dynamic trade opportunities, both the flows of highly skilled people looking to settle abroad and the host countries have diversified. The US share of highly skilled migrants saw a relative decline due to a bigger intake mostly in other English-speaking countries, but also in Asia and some European countries. Nevertheless, the public policies addressing the skills shortage in the major English-speaking host countries and continental Europe reflect an important difference: "We need the (right) … (1) "people for the skills" vs. (2)"skills for our people"". Finally, it shouldn't be surprising that the attitude towards highly skilled immigrants is most positive in those countries which experience demographic problems, are dependent on foreign human capital, or which are losing an important number of highly skilled workers - provided they have the economic capacity to manage the flow and the will to welcome newcomers. Skilled immigrants are also welcome in specific niches (e.g. bio and medical technology, software, robotics, marine engineers) where the accumulation of skills is critical to the economy, sustainability and scientific discoveries. Another trend of the war for talents is that it is becoming regional - more skilled migrants are going to LA and NY than the rest of the USA while in Europe some cities (Barcelona, Basel, Oresund region, Trondheim) target mobile skilled workers.
As far as postgraduate students are concerned, their mobility has already been acknowledged as a precursor for future migrations. However, some admission criteria and procedures - mainly in the English speaking countries - reveal bad intentions or/and poor management. E.g., it is not very clear how foreign applicants' English language skills will be evaluated by their professors who don't speak English. The model employed in Nordic Europe and partially in Spain and Italy - the one requiring a personal project/motivation rather than relying on networks leads to better outcomes and personal responsibility. Some good practices could be considered - Denmark does not acknowledge recommendation letters by applicants' home country professors (obviously the quality of education is different and all letters are alike); the first 18 months of the Ph. d. in the Netherlands are subject to approval (i.e. the contract may be terminated if the candidate is not suitable); in some countries (Denmark, Norway, Netherlands and soon Estonia)Ph. d. students are considered employees, their studies are legally seen as work.
For some businesses, it may be a question of cost to prefer foreign workers over native ones but it is often argued that skilled diversity adds unique value, business insights and strong motivation for success. Both arguments are true depending on the particular situation and business. While some corporations may not always play by the rules, it is also true that they can transcend state borders. In such cases, skilled professionals' - or expats' mobility - depends on their employers as much as or even more than the states in question. Businesses cooperate, perhaps more than national governments do. Thus, when visa issues made it impossible for foreign skilled workers to be hired in the US, Microsoft opened an office in Canada and transferred them from Seattle to Vancouver.
When the private sector is concerned, HR departments and consultancies play an important part in talent acquisition and retention but Strategic Human Resource Management is actually a part of a broader firm strategy adopted by the top. There are two more skilled migration-related tasks businesses are responsible for - providing students (incl. foreign students) with practical skills through graduate and workplace learning programs and lobbying national institutions for more effective regulations.

Research Interests

Highly Skilled Migration, International Students Mobility/Migration, Points Based Schemes (or similar), and Comparative Public Policy

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Unpublished Presentations (3)