Countries often experience a shortage of highly educated professional manpower. Such persons, moreover, usually prefer to live in the major cities rather than in the rural areas where in many cases their services are most urgently needed. Thus their shortage is magnified by their relative immobility and their skills are seldom used effectively. For example, graduate engineers may be found managing the routine operation of an electric power sub-station or doing the work of draftsmen, and doctors may spend long hours making the most routine medical tests.
A lack of persons who have skills, education and experience is typical in developing countries and critical for their economic and political development. The manpower shortages of developing countries fall into several categories. The shortage of technicians, nurses, agricultural assistants, technical supervisors and other sub-professional personnel is generally even more critical than that of fully qualified professionals, such as scientists, agronomists, veterinarians, engineers and doctors. This is because the modernizing countries usually fail to recognize that the requirement for this category of manpower exceed by many times those for senior professional personnel. Also, the few persons who are qualified to enter a technical institute may also be qualified to enter a university, and they prefer the latter because of the higher status and pay which is accorded the holder of a university degree; and finally, there are often fewer places available in institutions providing intermediate training than in universities.
The shortage of top-level managerial and administrative personnel in both the private and public sectors, is almost universal, as is the dearth of persons with entrepreneurial talents. Teachers are almost always in short supply, and their turnover is high because they tend to leave the teaching profession if and when more attractive jobs become available in government, politics, or private enterprise. This shortage is generally most serious in secondary education, and particularly acute in the fields of science and mathematics. It is a 'master bottleneck' which retards the entire process of human resource development. In most modernizing countries there are also shortages of craftsmen of all kinds, senior clerical personnel such as book-keepers, secretaries, stenographers and business machine operators, and of other personnel such as radio and television specialists, airplane pilots, accountants, economists and statisticians.