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Brain Drain in Albania

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Brain Drain in Albania: Challenges and actions to save the future.

Brain Drain in Albania: Challenges and actions to save the future.

Elisa Ago

Epoka University


       Brain Drain, skill labour migration in developing countries is one of the major apprehensions for sustainable economic progress. As the world continues to globalize, consequences of Brain Drain must be in the focus of the Governments to take effective actions to face this challenge. Considered as one of the countries with the highest migration rates and Brain Drain index in the world (INSTAT, 2019) Albania should identify key issues of the process and take proactive steps to support economic development and enable professionals to share their skills, innovation ideas, and knowledge. As an overview of what is emerging in Albania, this paper proposes some key points where Government and Private Enterprise System should focus to return the process from a Brain Drain to a Brain Gain.

Keywords: Brain Drain; Migration; Economy; Solutions


        According to the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs data (2017), Albania is between the countries with the highest migration rates comparing to its population, 3.3 migrants per 1,000 people. Thirty years after the fall of Communism, Albanian migration continues to be driven by unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunities, and poor living conditions. Furthermore, the unemployment rate in 2019 was 13.96% (Statista, 2019) one of the highest among European countries. As maintained by EUROSTAT data (2019), Albania is the country with the lowest minimum wage in Europe. Recent studies show that migration of highly-educated people has given rise to the phenomena of skill labour migration, known as Brain Drain. For years remittances have been an appreciable stimulation for the Albanian economy and contribute averagely 9.1% in the country's GDP every year (Bank of Albania). Although the migration of skilled workers and students has created shortages at the upper end of the skills spectrum e.g.(engineers, economists, doctors, nurses, specialists). A survey conducted from Gallup Survey (2015-2017) ranks Kosovo and Albania at the top of the "brain drain" index in Europe. In Kosovo, 42% of the highly-educated young adults and in Albania 32% of them would leave their countries on account of economic conditions, low wages, corruption, lack of rule of law and lack of opportunities.

          Every day Albania is losing young, enterprising people who are catalysts of economic progress with their innovative ideas. Moreover is expected to experience a huge shortage of academic and technological labour if the situation continues to involve. The problem has attracted more attention in the economic field where the exodus may lead to loss of confidence in the economy, loss of taxes for the government, loss of investments in education and health care systems.

       To minimize the consequences as much as possible and support the economic development, the Albanian Government in partnership with Private Sector should create a detailed strategy with its focus on the integration of recently graduated people in society and improvement of life quality.


        In order to gather some information for the process was used the quantitative method. For this study, we analyzed the data collected from a short survey completed online via Google Form. The survey consisted of three simple questions related to the migration of young people abroad. Participants in this data collection where 95 people aged between 17-30 years old. Our survey’s targets were high school seniors, university students, and recently graduated people. High school seniors were selected from “Dhaskal Todri” high school in Elbasan. Were selected students from Epoka University, University of Medicine, Polytechnic University of Tirana (Faculty of Technology and Information, Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture), and University Luarasi, Participants between 26-30 years old were contacted online via social networks. The data collected supports the fact that highly-educated people see their future in more developed countries than Albania.



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Results of the survey

      The findings are directly in line with previous findings related to the process of Brain Drain in Albania. The questions and the results are summarized in the charts below:

1. Do you plan to go abroad in the future for reasons like education, postgraduate studies, work, and career?

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Although the number of participants in our survey was limited, nearly ¾ of them wished to create their life and career abroad. Under certain assumptions, this can be construed as a very concerning result. 

2. Would you return to Albania to share your experience and skills gained abroad if you had a good life quality in another country?

        [pic 4]

A similar pattern of results was obtained also in the second question. Migration abroad has positive consequences in developing countries when people return and bring back experiences, skills, and investments. From our findings, it is evident that 57% of them wouldn’t prefer to come back to Albania. The reasons may be different such as wages, business opportunities, services provided, safety.

3. Which are the main reasons you want to move abroad?

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The results of the last questions were key points for the research to write the proposals for the Government. The results lead to similar conclusions where the major part of people migrates due to the economic conditions of their families, low wages. It is not surprising that Albanians migrate also due to unstable political system. 22% of them would leave their country on account of corruption. Other factors found were lack of opportunities and transparency. Also, a small part of them would go abroad for better services especially in Health Care and Education Systems.

Proposals for Government

There is strong evidence showing that the prevention of Brain Drain has a very positive impact on economic development and the improvement of democracy. Even though this consists of diminution of remittances and temporarily of Gross Domestic Product, in this way Albania will be able to gather talented resources which in the future can be the catalysts for economic progress. I propose these solutions to decrease the high levels of skilled labour migration:

  • Financial Support and scholarships for students who study abroad-Albanian Government finances 100% only the students accepted in the top 15 Universities in the world(TimesHigherEducation).This means that the number of scholarships is limited. The Government should increase the financial support (at least 5%) for excellent students who attend bachelor, master, and PhD studies abroad and obligate them to return and work in Albania for at least 5 years. They bring back skills and experience from the most developed countries, latest technologies, and a new standard in the Albanian workforce.

  • Support new enterprises-Young entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas are the future of a country in development. Venture Capital investments, financial support, low-interest loans, and low taxations are some of the duties where the Government should focus.

  • Wages –Being the state with the lowest minimum wage in Europe is one of the biggest disadvantages for our economy. If there is a reasonable wage increase, will be difficult for professionals to leave their country.
  • Meritocracy-For years Albania has suffered from a lack of meritocracy, especially in the public sector. A fair system based on meritocracy is one of the most effective solutions to promote integrity. I propose to create an Independent Council from the Government which controls the process of candidates’ selection in the public sector.
  • Work Culture-This is a proposal is worth for the Government and business organizations. Many organizations in Albania do not work on strong principles and work culture. This leads to communication gaps, corruption, and lack of collaboration. Many employees migrate abroad where they find a friendlier atmosphere and good work conditions.


The costs of the given Proposals


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