The Greek government is embarking on a strategic initiative to reverse the brain drain phenomenon by enticing Greek professionals and scientists who left the country during the economic crisis to return. The ambitious goal is to achieve “brain regain.”

Remarkably, data from the Conference and Workshop on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS), one of the world’s premier conferences on artificial intelligence, indicates that 11% of the global top 0.5% of AI researchers are Greek. However, the majority of them currently work outside Greece.

Quantifying this reversal effort, statistics reveal that approximately one in three businesses made one to six hires of Greek professionals from abroad in the past twelve months. Moreover, 5% of the surveyed businesses conducted 10 to 50 such hirings, with the average being higher for companies with an annual turnover exceeding €50 million.

The most sought-after specialties include information technology, management, and engineering disciplines (excluding information technology), with 48% of repatriated Greeks holding expertise in one of these fields.

Digital Tech Professionals Made up a Large Portion of Professionals Who Left

According to a study by the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), a significant portion of those who emigrated during the crisis specialized in digital technologies, exacerbating the shortage of skilled personnel with these qualifications in the Greek job market.

Speaking to ” Ta NEA”, Professor Lois Lamprinidis of the Department of Economic Sciences at the University of Macedonia addressed the causes of brain drain, efforts to address the youth exodus, and indications of a potential trend of repatriation.

Lamprinidis emphasized various factors contributing to brain drain, such as bureaucracy, nepotism, and meritocracy. However, the key issue, he asserted, is the limited demand for specialized human resources, leading to high rates of underemployment and non-career-oriented jobs with relatively low salaries.

In terms of government incentives to encourage repatriation, Lamprinidis raised concerns about the effectiveness of incentives alone, pointing to countries that achieved repatriation success through a combination of significant development rates and incentives. He also questioned whether those who stayed in Greece should receive equal treatment, highlighting potential social injustice.