NEWS

Greece’s unemployed seek greener pastures overseas

Strolling around the streets of Kolonaki these days you won?t come across that many golden boys anymore; instead you are more likely to bump into people dropping into foreign embassies in search of information on living and working overseas.

Google ?Greeks in…? and you will get hundreds of cities and countries across the globe. The ?Greeks in Qatar? Facebook group has 128 members while their Cape Town counterparts are well over 200. Over 300 Greeks have joined the Finland group and 185 the one for Greeks in Turkey. Hundreds of Greeks are visiting websites featuring tips and information about migrating to Australia and Canada, as well as asking questions and exchanging views.

But things are not really that promising given that the economic crisis has hit many European economies hard and is now also knocking on the door of Cyprus — until recently a safe haven for many Greek scientists.

More attractive, rather, are the Scandinavian countries (particularly Sweden), the Netherlands, Germany and the UK. Engineers are tempted to look at Arab countries like Qatar but also developing economies in Africa which are investing heavily in the construction of railw and road networks as well as sports venues.

?It used to be the under-30s,? a Western European envoy recently told Kathimerini. ?Now the average age has gone up to 50 — sometimes entire families are interested in moving abroad,? he said.

The size of the migration wave is betrayed by the age groups as well as the CVs. ?In the old days it was doctors who were interested in moving to Sweden to get their medical specialization,? a Swiss diplomat said. ?Now there is great interest from university graduates as well as unskilled workers and so on,? he added.

Interest is strong also in Germany, which has in the past received large numbers of Greek workers. Many youngsters are seeking to study in the European Union powerhouse, with the hope of finding a job after their studies.

Statistical data from the Europass website — which provides a standardized CV format for EU citizens designed to increase mobility between the states of the 27-member bloc — are telling. More than 106,000 Greek users visited the EU website between January and July this year. Some 55,000 CVs were submitted by Greeks living in Greece and over 59,000 from outside the country.

Meanwhile, unemployed youth in Portugal are turning to the country?s former colonies in Latin America. Similarly, Greeks are attracted to destinations that used to host large numbers of Greek immigrants and which still have large Greek communities — such as Canada and Australia. Despite the long journey and the painstaking visa procedure, the two countries are modern-day El Dorados in the eyes of jobless Greeks.

Nonprofit group the Greek Orthodox Community of Melbourne