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Why Generation Brain Drain?

Brain drain, brain waste, brain circulation, human capital flight.

I didn’t even know this expression until today. I always used the equivalent in my mother tongue to refer to this phenomenon, which can be translated literally as ”fleeting brains”. I think it’s depressing.

Quoting Wikipedia: Brain drain, or flight of human capital, refers to the departure or emigration of individuals with technical skills or knowledge from organizations, industries and geographical regions. (…) As with other human migration, the social environment is considered to be a key reason for this population shift. In source countries, lack of opportunities, political instability or oppression, economic depression, health risks and more contribute to brain drain whereas host countries usually offer rich opportunities, political stability and freedom, a developed economy and better living conditions that attract talent.

I am not going to talk about my country yet. However, living in England has given me the opportunity to meet a huge number of young people who belong to this generation, of which I am -sadly- a member as well.

In the past year I have made some friends here and I’ve seen them leave, punctually, after a few months. These people have no idea where they are headed to in life and probably no one does. They mostly come to England to learn English. Some of them can afford to attend a school, some of them think they will learn it by living here. Some others are simply leaving their countries because there are no prospects for young people whatsoever. They graduate and find themselves thinking: Now what.

People who don’t know better, often argue that young people are lazy or won’t settle for just any job. I resent that. Of all the people I have met, the majority have a good degree and come here and decide to work as waiters or cleaners or whatever they can find. Nothing wrong with that, I did it too (for a total of 3 days) and those jobs are just as dignified as any others.
However, don’t we have the right to dream and have ambitions anymore? After investing in a 3 year (if not longer) degree in something, is it wrong to expect and want to work in that field and get paid well? Where are the jobs?

I was lucky enough to already speak English, as well as other languages. When I came here I thought: This is temporary. I will find a decent job, work for a while, save some money, then go back home or study again or take it from there. The main thing is that I am bored here and I want to live in an environment where I can thrive. And I want to be able to pay for rent and everything without asking my parents for money. If anything, I want to be able to give them money back for all they have done for me”.

After my graduation, I packed my stuff and flew back to Manchester. I knew people here and I had lived here before and missed it. I found old friends and new friends, unexpectedly a new love. But I couldn’t seem to find a job, or maybe I was too picky? In December I finally did get a job, which was also the one that I wanted the most, out of all the positions I had applied for. I loved it in the beginning as I was always learning new things, but after a while it became dull and repetitive and I knew I wasn’t using my whole brain or feeling too happy about it. I felt really bad for feeling like this. I like my colleagues, the location is great, life here is cheap and nice etc etc. But I decided to take the plunge and move to London.

In the mean time, I have really missed studying and I feel like it’s a slippery slope where I will just have to stick with jobs that I don’t love in order to make money and live and I’ll ultimately end up being stuck in the rat race like everyone else. So now I’m trying to understand whether it would make sense to invest in further education or if it’s possible to get experience in certain fields without having to spend 23000bloodyK plus living costs and other years of your life before. I mean I would if I could, believe me.

I also want to work my arse off and build something and learn and learn and learn.

I have two weeks left at my current job, which is emotional per se. But the most emotional thing is leaving this city that I love so much and starting a new life, alone. I still feel like the anxious small town girl I was when I first left my country (for 5 months) in January 2011. Yet so many things have changed. I just hope to do the right thing and achieve something great. I demand and choose to have ambitions again!




  • Elizabeth Morris Elizabeth Morris says:

    I’ve been thinking about investing in further education as well. I think you should onyl do it if YOU want to. My boss has been at her job for 15 years with no masters degree while my co-worker just finished hers. Both are doing great work and I think it’s because they chose the path that was best for them. I am right there with you on having ambitions! I think that’s why I love this blog….

  • Silvia says:

    thanks Elizabeth, you are right. I just need to figure out what the best path for me is but I guess everyone my age feels the same

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