European Western Balkans

Fighting brain drain requires promoting circulating migration of qualified individuals

Author: Flickr/Hernán Piñera

The motivation for the decision-making process of leaving the country is a combination of certain factors, but mostly those who belong with socio-economic conditions and with a feeling of belongingness. This sentence can very easily be replaced with the phrase “Lack of Social Security”.

We can not speak about linear developments in Albania regarding the migration crisis. The ups and downs have moved along with the contextual developments in the political sphere and are characterized with the “spices and flavors” of the international policies and social tendencies. In this case, we are not going through an analysis of trends, but through an analysis which seeks an understanding of the lifestyle phenomena: “Systematic brain-drain”.

Going back to the 60s, when a large number of scientists and engineers emigrated from Western Europe to the US, this concept means the migration of educated persons and professionals from one country to another. In its publication Migration and Remittances, the World Bank ranks Albania among the top countries in the world (15th place) with regard to tertiary-educated persons as a proportion of the total.

In 2010 and 2011, according to the same source, 31.3 percent of Albanian tertiary-educated people were thought to be emigrants. This somehow can be understood or interpreted also as an intrinsic problem of small-scale economies because of the “truncated” nature of the labor market, with limited opportunities in highly specialized sectors. Later on, until 2016-2018 the migration waves strike by it “normalcy”, by combining the common push factors such as economic problems, poverty, housing, unemployment and heavy tendency to search for a better life. The decrease in remittances, the slowing down of the economic activity and the return of tens of thousand emigrants from Greece and Italy helped the migratory pressure reach the tipping point.

There are many reasons preventing desires of average people from becoming reality because they are conditioned by labor market opportunities, restrictive policies in host countries, changes in the personal situation, family conditions and the feeling of being appreciated and well perceived in a certain labor market ore job position.

However, studies show that there is a strong correlation between potential and real migration. According to an article in the Times Higher Education, countries that attract highly skilled graduates from poor countries are “free riding” on the education systems and talented human resources of these less-well-endowed countries. This form of migration has become of great concern for the future of Albania.

Despite the fact that wage supplements are no longer considered to be the only method of attracting highly qualified and skillful people to return to or visit the country, there may be other, related incentives that can pave a way for the engagement of motivated and hardworking people and especially the young ones in Albania.

Taking measures to avoid the permanent abandonment of skilled and educated individuals requires the installation and promotion of temporary migration, in particular, the circulating migration of qualified individuals. The Government of Albania has been undertaking some concrete steps to promote the voluntary return of qualified, permanent or temporary migrants through short-term positions for consultation, teaching or training purposes. This has also served to identify all the intellectual capacities that are abroad.

The National Strategy for Diaspora will attract and facilitate the representatives of the talented young generation abroad to retreat to a professional career in the country. This opportunity has been materialized through the provision of scholarships for further studies abroad and the creation of opportunities for participation in programs for exchanging experiences with third countries, towards the obligation to return. This has been considered and received as an investment for the future by increasing the level of young academics and professionals.

Nevertheless, the incentives must be undertaken by creating a proper trio-log among state institutions, business community, civil society sector (the currently existing one in Albania and diaspora) and bringing that discourse/trio-log also beyond the country level, to the regional and international one.

Analysis of labor force survey data shows that returnees contribute to an increase in employment rates through both self-employment and hiring workers for new businesses. Returnees are more likely than non-migrants to set up businesses and bring non-migrants into the labor force (Hausmann and Nedelkoska, 2017; Piracha and Vadean, 2010).

In this trio-log can ensure for the first time the synergy between three different perspectives and point of views and by being backed up with expertise and political will, can change the narrative and establishing a new scenario of “Homeland happiness machines”.

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