“Greece could make its capital a high tech Mecca,” said Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google during his lecture, entitled Technology as a Spark for Growth, he gave at Megaron Plus, in central Athens, Greece.
First of all, Schmidt expressed his gratitude to Greece for inventing mathematics and then he went on supporting that nowadays Greece has the conditions to achieve this aim, like a highly skilled workforce and a good education system.
In his opinion, the bureaucratic obstacles have to be raised in order for intensive-knowledge companies which would establish “technology nodes” in Athens, with an internationally competitive presence. More importantly, he added that the low wages in IT, i.e. the field of information technology in the country, the cheap infrastructure as well as the presence of many universities in Athens are comparative advantages that Greece should not leave unexploited.
Though he didn’t to want to reveal more information, he said that Google will seek to contribute towards this direction, which was one of the reasons of his visit in the country, and of his meeting with Antonis Samaras. “The Greek prime minister is aware of how detrimental it is for the economy the high rates of unemployment in IT,” was his only comment on the meeting that took place before his lecture.
After mentioning that in Greece the economic crisis has left wounds that are hard to heal, Schmidt added that the recession and the rise of unemployment is not a Greek particularity, but rather a problem with international dimensions. According to Google’s Executive Chairman, this is due to the fact that the developed countries have to face the challenges brought about by globalization and the mass transfer of positions for unskilled labor in the Asian region. In addition, the developed societies have one more problem to deal with, the aging of population which is becoming increasingly acute.
For him, the only way to achieve growth is through innovation. To support his view, he cited international surveys that show that for each high tech workplace, five more are created in the local economy. He also stressed that these jobs are done in much better conditions than in the past.
So, for Eric Schmidt, especially for Greece, the creation of high tech workplaces is imperative, as the problem of unemployment is urgent; if not solved immediately, it will soon create more consequences. “Regardless of the size they might have, it is the start-ups that mainly do recruits. So Greece has to encourage the creation of hi-tech businesses of any size and scope- from locally operating businesses, to companies with an international presence,” he underlined.
Observing what has happened in Greece since the beginning of the crisis, he said that he was deeply impressed by the patience that the Greek people have shown. “Now, I can tell that I will leave even more impressed,” he stated in the end of his lecture.