A growing number of young university graduates are leaving Greece as a worsening recession continues to plague the job market. The forecasted turnaround does not look promising. Greece’s national debt is approximated at 300 billion euros or $400 billion USD. This figure is greater than its GDP, indicating numerous years of austerity budgets. The nation’s political corruption scenarios have left many young Greeks discouraged about their future.
For example, hotel employee 29 year old Alexandra Mallosi will depart her native Athens for Dubai to begin a new job as a hotel sales manager. Frustrated with her current Greek hotel sector work experience, Mallosi stated to the Times: “In other countries, young people are encouraged…In Greece, they are held back”. 22 year old Yannis Gio feels the same and has moved to London after two Greek architectural firm prospects evaporated. Gio claimed: “I couldn’t find a job because I didn’t have inside connections”. Gio is now planning interviews in London, Beijing and Paris. His classmate Jason Kezios who is 24, has been working in a London based advertizing firm for the last 4 months. Kezios explains: “I earn twice as much as I would in Greece, and the prospects are much better”.
Graduates who have work experience face just as many challenges. Take 35 year old Alexis Cohen; he has had a ten year sound engineer career in Greece. Now his job is at risk as many performers are producing fewer concerts. Cohen has arranged job interviews in California and will move with his girlfriend in October. He supports his decision: “If you want to have a decent life, you can’t do it here…It’s always been difficult. Now it’s nearly impossible”.
According to a recently published survey by Kapa Research for To Vima, 7/10 Greek college graduates desire to work abroad. 4/10 are actively searching for these jobs or attaining higher education to best prepare themselves for the international arena. Kapa Research queried 5,422 Greeks between the ages of 22-35.
The most current official figures reveal that employment for 15-24 year old Greeks was at 29.8% in June. Across the EU the figure is approximated at 20%. In May the Greek statistic was at 32.5%, due to the need for temporary tourism sector jobs. However last June the figure was at 22.9%. In the age group of Greeks 25-34, the statistic was at 16.2% in June which was an increase from 11.8% a year prior. Total unemployment rates was 11.6%, which was a significant increase from last year’s figure at 8.6%.
During the 1950’s-1960’s, thousands of Greeks immigrated to the United States, Australia and beyond to seek better opportunities. After Greece joined the EU many Greeks returned to their homeland which at that time had a flourishing economy. The 2004 Athens Summer Olympic Games further encouraged natives to return to their roots.
Greece first began showing financial weaknesses in 2008. This year’s financial crisis forced the nation to borrow 110 billion euros in loan guarantees from the IMF and EU. The lenders demanded many budget cuts in return for the large sum.
Athens University Associate Professor of Economics & Business George Pagoulatos stated to The New York Times: “Today the people leaving Greece are not going to wash dishes in Astoria…They are graduate students in New York choosing to stay and work there”.
To read the full version of The NY Times article: “Young Greeks Seek Options Elsewhere”, please visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/15/business/global/15drachma.html?_r=1&emc=eta1
(photo source: http://www.discovertheworld.gr/img/greece_globe.jpg)