Why is albania’s talent leaving the country? by Alfred Sogja (F’1G)

by tuftsigl
Aug 07

U.S. Ambassador Yuri Kim visits U.S. technology company Mozenda in their offices in Tirana, Albania. Photo taken by U.S. Embassy-Tirana.

Over the summer I started conducting research on Albania’s job market, with the aim of ultimately solving its untapped talent problem via an innovative business model. So far, I have looked at some trends, population sizes, and the number of people from that population size who attend university. In what follows, I want to share some of my exciting preliminary findings with you.

The data confirms Albanian youth are getting educated and are gaining the skills necessary for the competitive job market. Over 139,000 students enrolled in universities across the country, so what is the Albanian government doing to increase job growth and solve the untapped talent problem? A growth rate of the Albanian economy as a whole is 2.2%, and is enough to hold European Union (EU) accession talks, but is it enough to keep and grow their talent? It is clear the country is struggling with implementing important reforms to revitalize growth and job creation.

Unsurprisingly, the Balkans hold some of the highest youth unemployment rates in continental Europe:  Albania stands at 28%, Serbia and Montenegro both at 30%, North Macedonia at 39%, and Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina exceed 50%. Of course, high rates of unemployment are bad, but in the case of Albania, things are worse: it seems to motivate many talented people to leave the country.

A study conducted by Russell King of the University of Sussex and Albanian researcher Ilir Gedeshi showed that Albania’s willingness to migrate grew from 44% in 2007 to 52% in 2018 (Reuters, 2018). This surge in numbers who mull leaving are mainly driven by economic reasons and points to the country’s ongoing struggle to grow its economy and create enough jobs. What is interesting about the 52%, Gedeshi explains, is that “…the skilled, educated with a job and good economic standing want to migrate.”

Due to the Albanian government’s lackluster economic growth plans, the risk of brain and skill drain is ever so clear. People with undergraduate and master’s degrees now look to leave for economic reasons. The ones who are educated and choose to stay, however, risk losing their skills from little to no opportunities. In the same study, what the data shows is that more and more people are choosing to leave Albania because they do not see a future there.

In my next post, I will talk about the market size, the sector, and hone in on my problem statement. If you have an interest in my research on the problem of untapped Albanian talent, please get in touch!

Alfred Sogja