Onic Palandjian

CEO , Europa Aluminium

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How can we avert / minimize the brain-drain from countries in crisis?

Many young, bright Greeks with excellent ideas, energy to work hard and prove themselves want to leave Greece. It’s similar for Egyptians, Tunisians, Armenians, Portuguese and other countries in crisis. Morale is at an all-time low and something drastic has to happen in order to change the trend. A country without young educated people has no future.
Could in our case the solution be the Greeks of the Diaspora?

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    Apr 12 2011: There is financial and political crisis. I will comment on the first: Brain drain happens because countries in financial crisis suffer from very high unemployment, especially youth unemployment.
    So first governments need to try to reduce this unemployment. That they can do by helping creation of new jobs and employment. Given that the public sector in most cases (like Greece and Portugal) is broke, they need to facilitate job creation from the private sector. Private sector will create jobs if there are good reasons for new investment. For that you need to remove uncertainty and bureaucracy, incentivize FDI and facilitate startups.
    The problem is that all of this is long term and, although a government has to do all this, it will take a very long time. In the short and mid term you are stuck with high unemployment and that means that in a globalized world a lot of people will leave the country in search of employement and that is beneficial both to the person and the society at large, assuming they will come back when the situation improves and bring their savings.
    The key here is for a country to keep the best and brightest of its youth, the people who in fact have the best chances of finding employment abroad. Here are some ideas: 1) most of these countries’ culture respects experience and status more than ideas and hard work (that the best and brightest carry). That culture must be questioned. 2) install the notion of meritocracy by law and practice 3) remove laws that make business failing a personal disaster and support youth entrepreneurship. 4)Incentivize hiring of young people
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    Apr 16 2011: In a time when it is easier than ever to galvanize a society I believe we are making it more difficult to have pride in our cultural belonging. It seems to me that we have gone the path of look after ourselves and it's entirely understandable. With the crisis which we have experienced in the world today it is a default mechanism in humans to go into Flight or Fight mode and I think most of us are in the Flight mode at the moment.
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      Apr 17 2011: Hi Lee:

      As someone who left his country, I must disagree.
      I'm proud of my roots, but at the same time I'm pragmatic regarding which is the best place for my family and me.

      Nations are constructions made off ideas.

      I don't believe that is a escape strategy. And if it is, I don't think I would gain much from the Stay and fight tactic.

      I like better the “citizen of the world” idea.

      Regarding your comment on pride, I think is a insecurity issue if you move to a new country and try to pretend that you are native, and even reject your origins. And I think is sad. While I say this I know it’s common, but not all people react that way.



      PS extreme example here: if you where from Afghanistan and could take your family to Italy. Would you stay? Would you risk your life and your family’s? or would you go to Italy? Does that mean that you lost your pride? Or the pride in your culture?
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    Apr 15 2011: Hi Onic!

    My 2 cents here:
    As someone that left his country many years ago, I think people have only one life and should profit from it as much as possible.
    As for how to get people back, the state could give specific sectors (I would personally go for research and development, universities and high management) VERY aggressive tax cuts and incentives if they are able to bring back high skilled people.
    The state could also support the people leaving my engaging other countries (hosts) and helping people find jobs outside, while maintaining the connection and developing a plan to bring the same people back.

    Hope it’s useful


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    Apr 13 2011: Thank you all for your feedback!
    Do you think it is therefore fair to admit to 25-35 year olds that their chance of getting a job in these problematic countries is slim and they should find their luck and career elsewhere ? Can this be a sustainable way to rebuilt a country in crisis?
    If not, how can the Diaspora of each country help?
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    Apr 13 2011: Onic, The same is Happening in Armenia, a lot of talented Armenians want to leave our country because there are not enough job opportunities for all.... Armenian Diaspora helps a lot in terms of providing funds for many charitable organizations and also investing in Armenian economy, but the number of educated labor migration doesn’t get less....
    I think the country government should have some policy for this target to provide them with job opportunities and for motivating them to stay in the country by insuring their ownership in Countries future development. I think mane people leave not only because they don’t have jobs, but because they don’t have hope that the situation will change to the better side .....
  • Apr 13 2011: One of the Philippines biggest exports are knowledge workers; teachers, medical personnel, engineers... It brings a significant revenue for the country. I don't think that presently this practice is cause of a major brain-drain. The Philippines has a large number of highly skilled and educated workers and probably can afford to part with many of them.
  • Apr 12 2011: I agree with most of Yorgos' comments. It is like making an aircraft carrier turn around. Not easily accomplished, and something that is done gradually. I disagree with his first idea, in that i think Greece has historically been mostly driven by entrepreneurial, or at least smaller and/or family run companies, rather than large corporations. That being said, his second idea is crucial for a paradigm shift to occur. Having worked in the US my entire career, I will be the first to say that "who you know" is equallly important to "what you know", but in Greece it seems to be 90% "who you know" and 10% "what you know". This would be incredibly demoralizing for anyone not lucky enough to have gone to the "right" schools, and when added to the slow pace of change must be madenning for young people with drive, ambition, ideas and knowledge. It is vital that young people are made to feel that the game is fair for them, otherwise they will continue to seek a more balanced playing field abroad. I would like to see funds that are now being used to prop up an inflated public sector be diverted and provided for start-up capital for new businesses by our disenfranchised youth. It will get harder before it gets better, but if the future is what we care about then some short term suffering by many now, to benefit all in 20 years time, may be the price we all pay.