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Young doctors and engineers leave towards the Arab world

02 March 2009 / 09:03:35  GRReporter
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Platform 11 at the Munich railway station used to be called “Platform of hope.” From there, Greek workers were leaving to go to German factories in search for better life. Almost half a century later another emigrant wave is becoming stronger but instead of waving handkerchiefs for goodbye, they are waving their diplomas. Young doctors, engineers and other professionals, with masters and doctorate degrees leave the country to look for jobs abroad – not only for better salaries but also because their labor and diplomas will be recognized.

“I catch my cap and I’m leaving!” says for Katemerini a young doctor who has been waiting for three years in order to be accepted for his hospital training. He wants to leave for the US and Matina, who is an engineer shares that she had to live with a ?400 salary in Patra so she asks rhetorically: “Why shouldn’t I leave?!”

According to unofficial data in the last ten years more than 550 000 Greeks have left the country in order to work abroad for a bit or they have just stayed there after their graduation.

Each year more than 3500 doctors graduate and only 800 retire. “This way there are 70 000 doctors in the country and we only need 30 000. For doctors, who are just graduating the feeling of a professional dead-lock is very strong,” comments Mr. Nikos Keramaris, chairman of the young doctors and medical workers’ association.

So, it is understandable why each year around 1000 doctors leave abroad. A survey done by the young doctors association shows that around 70.3% of medical students say that they want to do their training abroad. “The average students do not leave, only the best… the former will not be accepted to train abroad. The smart ones are those we lose,” continues Mr. Keramaris.

We need to note teaching someone to become a doctor costs the State more than any other profession – for one year the State pays ?30 000 for one medical student, which for six years comes up to ?180 000. At the same time 1800 people are expecting to be accepted for training and 1600 have finished with their training but are unemployed.

The situation of the engineers is a bit different. The salaries abroad are going around ?10 000 in Dubai, ?8000 with paid airplane tickets in Qatar, and ?9000 with paid food in the United Arab Emirates. Thousands of students are studying engineering in Greece and the construction sector in the country is dying. So the main destinations for young engineering students are the Middle East, Balkans and former Soviet Republics. In the five polytechnic universities in the country 3250 students are accepted each year and 2665 graduate.

Even though there are no public registers it is recorded that in the last year 5% of graduated engineers in Greece have left for Dubai. Matina has decided to go and work in UAE, where she is living and working for about four months now. She is from Patra, where she graduated from university and after that she was out on the market. She got an offer to start with ?400 and one day this salary could have increased to ?600 – the insurances had to be paid by her. In some specialized engineering websites she read about the opportunities, which are offered by the Arab countries so she sent her CV…

Right now her salary is ?3000 without having previous work experience, her rent, transportation and food are taken care of – including a woman, who takes care of her house. “The most important thing is that compared to any job in Patra, where bureaucracy would have destroyed me, here I have a creative job.” Matina is working on the construction of a port but of course her work time is between 10 and 12 hours per day in a six day working week.

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