Between the end of World War II and the early 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Greeks emigrated abroad in search of work. Almost half a century later, history is repeating itself; stricken by the economic crisis, young Greeks are once again leaving the country in search of better prospects, or even survival. Some 130,000 Greek university graduates are estimated that have left the country in the last five years, with a considerably proportion possessing either master’s degrees or doctorates, while many are medical or engineering graduates.
However, going against the so-called brain-drain trend, some highly skilled graduates choose to return. “The gains are without doubt twofold. They come back having lived and worked in a different environment that has helped them mature”, says Lois Labrianidis, who, as General Secretary for Strategic and Private Investment at the Greek Ministry of Economy, has been seeking ways to attract educated and skilled Greeks from abroad.
Young professionals who returned to Greece from the UK and US explain why they decided to return home, citing windows of opportunity as well as the challenge of putting up a fight building something new and something different – despite the risks, the uncertainty, sluggish professional mobility and low wages compared to their jobs abroad.
According to Labrianidis, the government is examining new development legislation to implement a scheme through which employers taking on specialized professionals can be granted privileges and to enhance the creation of research centres, whilst also exploring ways to utilize those who opt to remain abroad by facilitating partnerships in Greece.