Unemployment shadow over Greek youth

CNC report from Athens
Added On August 8, 2013

Greek unemployment surged to 26.9 percent in June.

The country's deep recession and record-high unemployment rate are causing a brain drain.

Michalis Raouzeos, a 25-year-old graduate of the Athens University Faculty of Communication and Mass Media, has been scanning for vacancies in dailies and online for months with no result, before settling for a job which he's overqualified for.

Over the past six months, he's organized events promoting cars, cosmetics, among other things.

SOUNDBITE (GREEK) MICHALIS RAOUZEOS, Graduate
"It was quite difficult. My current job position is not exactly relevant to my studies. And there has been a long period of doing nothing when I couldn’t get even part-time work."

At the moment, he's still trying to build his future in Greece rather than searching for opportunities abroad.

SOUNDBITE (GREEK) MICHALIS RAOUZEOS, Graduate
"I have several friends who have emigrated. I believe it's not the solution, leaving the country for a better quality of life. It is a refuge, but at the same time we have to go back in time and we see what previous generations have done. It is not a contribution to our society's progress."

His roommate Emilia Varouxaki, a 25-year old graduate of the Athens Technological Educational Institute, is experiencing the same kind of stress and insecurity.

Since 2009, she's been between short-term jobs before finding one relevant to her studies.

SOUNDBITE (GREEK) EMILIA VAROUXAKI, Graduate:
"Eventually I found a stable job two years ago but the contract's unfixed. Of course nobody can tell what this means in today's circumstances. You can get fired at any moment."

Varouxaki has also decided to keep struggling as long as she can in her homeland.

SOUNDBITE (GREEK) EMILIA VAROUXAKI, Graduate:
"For the time being, emigration is a distant possibility for me. Certainly it will be on the table in the future. That 's if things don't turn out alright."

Both graduates consider themselves lucky compared to the 52 percent of university graduates in Greece dealing with unemployment.

In 2010, when the Greek debt crisis hit, the percentage stood at 42 percent.

And it's estimated that since then about 140,000 young scientists have left the country, seeking a better future elsewhere.

Fotini Thomaidou, an expert in finance at the Greek Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), explains the current situation.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) FOTINI THOMAIDOU, Expert in finance at IOBE:
"The share of Greece's nationals highly skilled migrating in the last years is constantly increasing and it has been nearly doubled during the last five to six years. According to estimates in 2010 it was around 120,000 people leaving abroad for job searching and in 2012 this number had reached 140,000."

The main destinations are European countries, such as Britain, Germany, Switzerland, but Greek engineers are also leaving to work in Arabic countries, she says.

The youth unemployment rate in Greece is the highest in the European Union.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) FOTINI THOMAIDOU, Expert in finance at IOBE:
"Under these circumstances, when the economy needs the more skilled people more in order to recover more quickly, then the lack of opportunities which is exactly in the first place the reason why people are migrating, is intensified even more when this wave of brain migration is increasing. So the chances of a quick recovery of the Greek economy are decreasing.”

However, the IMF said on Wednesday that Greece had made exceptional progress in stabilizing its economy.