Why are people leaving Serbia?

1. Opportunities

Young people that are leaving Serbia are often a subject of criticism. However, it is rather ungrateful to be judgmental about a young person that wishes to improve his/her skills, work and live in a system that offers better opportunities. What encourages youth from the onset to pack their bags is the desire for a better education and the opportunities to practice what they studied for. Furthermore, soon after leaving their country, young people realize other benefits that are offered for them in more developed systems, such as internships during the course of their studies, career prospects, the rule of law, better access to cultural and artistic events, more chances for participation in public life. Truth be said, some of these opportunities exists in Serbia as well, but one needs to admit that they are rather confined and reserved for the privileged ones. If one compares these two options, it is clear why young and smart people that leave hardly ever come back.

2. Meritocracy – the Value of Knowledge

In an interview, the Dean of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering once said on this subject that young people that graduated from technical sciences are leaving the most, because all they need for success is knowledge. When we add to that the information of the World Economic Forum that only 3 out of 142 considered countries have more educated young people immigrating from it than Serbia, we can conclude that students are also aware of the fact expressed by this professor. Everything can depend on party membership in Serbia, or by changing the political party if needed be – you can be a politically suitable director with only a secondary school diploma, or an apathic waiter with a university degree. In Serbia, the greatest problem is not the brain drain but their waste of time. Serbia allows that the intellect of the people who want to progress is wasted on lower qualified position. After a series of injustices and failures, such people lose their competitive edge and will to fight, and immigration of these young and conscious people is just a logical step.

3. Improving Conditions

I need to go back to beginning where I said that young prople are often criticized for leaving. One of the main objections to them is that they do not stay home or come back to help their society and state. When you are a young smart and conscious person, then you try to live at a place that offers at least basic conditions for progress and normal life. Even those who would like to return to Serbia after they obtain their degrees abroad, give up on that. Why? We could starts by mentioning the degree recognition that often lasts over a year in Serbia, and requires a bureaucratic procedure that could e over in a day. Then we could add the unemployment rate in Serbia, that the MMF set to 21,8% in 2016, as well as an average salary that is at least 4 times lower that in the developed countries such as Germany, Austria, USA. Unfortunately, Serbia offers no stimuli for return.

4. Standard

Stories about high standards sometimes omit the fact how hard it is to have all the required conditions on top of a good salary. Still, there is something that this high standard of living is definitively providing for you, and that is STABILITY! When you know that you have well paid job, and that you can always find one, and in your profession, that the state is backing you up, then you can invest in improving the quality of your life. As soon as you are less stressed, it is easier to dedicate yourself to other spheres of life. True, healthier life is more expensive, but it is equally true that outside of Serbia one can afford to have such a life. There is also the question of what is perceived as expensive – in Serbia it does sound expensive that renting a flat in Switzerland costs 1000 CHF, but what is neglected is that the average salary there is over 6000 CHF. Therefore, it is hard, one needs to work a lot, but the work there is appreciated and compensated properly – you are stable and secure thanks to your work.

5. Social Life

Young people are usually oriented towards cosmopolitan ways of thinking, they take part in international seminars, exchanges, multinational cultural events. Communication with people from different cultures and religions enriches a person, motivates for new ways of thinking, all of which are basic aspirating of a young intellectual nowadays. Understanding and accepting others enables us to love and protect our own culture more. And then, after all, we come to a situation that it is precisely those who had left the country often contribute and work the most on preserving its culture and reputation.

This article was originally written in Serbian for the Društvene vesti Srbija (Social News Serbia) on-line magazine. It has been published in English for the M/A/Y Magazine with permission.

Tina Đukanović, Serbia

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