A research conducted by the Bank of Greece provided shocking results regarding the “brain drain” phenomenon in Greece. With the outbreak of the crisis in 2010, over 30,000 young people left Greece. The flows intensified in 2012 and continued, with the annual outflow of people in the 25-44 age group exceeding 50,000! In total, between 2008 and 2017, more than 467,000 people of this age group migrated.
It is worth noting that more than 1 out of 3 expatriates are women, with this statistic affecting negatively the already low fertility rate; secondly, the majority are people with developed human capital. As a result, the loss of highly educated and trained human resources undermines the country’s importance as a destination for high value-added investments, making it difficult for the Greek economy and society to be digitally transformed and transition to a ‘knowledge-based economy’.
The extremely high unemployment rate of young scientists before the crisis; the inertia of institutions; the limited financial resources directed towards research; the obstacles in the process of entering many professional fields and the plethora of higher education graduates from fields that do not serve the needs of a fast-changing labor market, coupled with a rather introverted and non-competitive economy, as well as a lack of merit and transparency in the selection of candidates, have been comprising the structural deficiencies of the labor market that fueled the outbound migration wave.
The BoG’s proposals
According to the Bank of Greece, to see Greek scientists staffing the Greek production engine, at least some… no-brainer initiatives should be implemented:
- The fight against digital illiteracy. The State, in collaboration with the private sector and academia, should take targeted action to digitally upgrade primary, secondary and tertiary education and actively support lifelong learning and education, with a focus on women.
- Updating the curricula. The labor market, in the age of globalization, digital revolution as well as knowledge-based economy, is changing rapidly.
- The enhancement of humanities studies in the circular education program combats functional illiteracy and limits the utilitarian nature of education.
- The possibility of the private sector funding university research programs for the direct use of the research product in the production process.
- The interconnection of Greek universities with foreign universities and the development of centers of excellence could attract a significant body of scientists and researchers.
- Creation of “brain circulation” structures and training programs for vocational education and training (Erasmus +).
- Improving internal networks, enhancing university-business partnerships, the two-way circular flow of information through ‘triple helix’ networks, with the aim of closely and effectively linking education, research and innovation, the three aspects of the “triangle of knowledge”.
- Compulsory extension of apprenticeship to promote the link between vocational education and the labor market.
- Providing financial incentives to businesses, e.g. in the form of tax exemptions, to develop research and innovation programs and to train their staff in new technologies. The mismatch between supply and demand for skills highlights the importance of investing in life-long vocational education and retraining. /ibna