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July 24, 2023

Migration of Skilled Workers to EU Threatens Demographic Changes in

The phenomenon of brain drain which describes the emigration of skilled workers to one more developed country, which in that case would be benefiting or gaining brain, is raising concerns among Western Balkan governments as demographic changes threaten the region.

An analysis by LinkedIn and the World Bank reveals that net migration recorded between 2015 and 2019 in this region has led to significant skill losses, especially in business and tech skills, while medicine remains the most damaged sector as the crisis of skilled medical workers migration continues to deepen, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

The same analysis also points out that the five main skills lost during this four-year period include dentistry, genetic engineering, development tools, medicine and rehabilitation, as well as web development. Losses in these fields are particularly noticed in North Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania.

The demographic changes that can occur due to brain drain come as a result of a quality of life that isn’t satisfactory for residents. One way how brain drain in the Balkans impacts the quality of life is that the lack of skilled workers, for example in the medical sector causes poor medical services or a lack of those altogether.

Due to the absence of medical staff several medical centres in towns and villages in Kosovo, same as in other Balkan countries, have had to shut down.

On the other hand, Serbia is highly dependent on the immigration of third-country nationals, as the country is dealing with an “incoming demographic disaster”, expecting to lose a quarter of its population by 2050. The main reasons for these changes are the emigration of youngsters and skilled workers as well as incredibly low-birth rates.

“As long as Serbia remains an unattractive country for potential immigrants, its population will continue to age and decline,” Vladimir Nikitovic, a demographer at Belgrade’s Institute for Social Sciences, says for BIRN.

Similarly, Albania is ranked first in the Balkan for the highest rate of migration – 29 per cent, which is concluded from population decreases noticed in many Albanian cities. For example, 53 per cent of residents in Kukës have left the county, while cities like Fier, Durrës, Vlorë and Shkodra have witnessed a 15 per cent decrease in their population in the last decade.

According to Andrea Mićanović, RYCO migration of the Montenegrin population is also on the rise but it isn’t necessarily linked to financial reasons as is the case of Macedonians and Albanians but rather to the socio-political situation in the country.

“Among those who migrate from Montenegro, there are many who perform deficit occupations, which, naturally, negatively affects the country’s economy… Those who decide to leave are very often families with children, which indicates the permanent character of migrations from Montenegro, making this phenomenon even more concerning,” she told SchengenVisaInfo.com.

In an article by SchengenVisaInfo.com, which elaborates on the causes of brain drain across the Western Balkan countries, Fiorella Belciu, an EU Commission spokesperson pointed out that the migration of skilled workers can be beneficial for some third countries, especially through circular migration. However, the number of skilled workers as well as the number of Balkan countries’ nationals immigrating to the EU, continues to rise.