Thu, Jan 22, 2015 - Page 6 News List

Young, gifted and Greek: the world’s biggest brain drain

The Guardian, ATHENS

Schools are being inundated with requests by students to be enrolled on courses for international exams that could prepare them for foreign fields.

“Greece doesn’t allow you to progress,” said Carmella Kontou, an aesthetician who is considering moving to the US. “You can’t even begin to think of having a family or achieving things that elsewhere in Europe would be considered totally natural.”

Like many of the younger generation, the 34-year-old declared that she would be casting a blank ballot on Sunday because she was so disgusted with politicians who had brought Greece to this place.

Lois Lambrinidis, a professor of economic geography at the University of Macedonia, said ever more Greeks were moving further afield.

“People feel trapped. The climate, economically and politically, is so bad that even if conditions are only mildly better abroad they are opting to go,” Lambrinidis said.

Research based on 2,000 telephone interviews conducted last summer showed the exodus was becoming ever more dispersed, possibly because Europe was also tightening up visa processes.

“Greeks are going anywhere they can find work and that might be Asia, Africa, Australia or the Middle East, and we are seeing a new phenomenon of non-degree holders who are also joining the flow,” he said.

Not all is lost, though.

Many of the newly mobile Greeks want to return home once the nation recovers. Experts say with their newly acquired skills and mind-sets, the emigres could become the “change agents” Greece so badly needs.

“A lot of us would like to go back,” Roppa said. “We will have a lot to offer in the way of different ethics and mentalities. No country could suffer a fate as bad as Greece. It has been totally humiliated by corrupt politicians and a system that was tolerated for far too long.”

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