Brain drain can be prevented, but not by closeness to powerful people, politicians, influential relatives.
Quality and young people are leaving Macedonia looking for better conditions for personal and professional development. Sometimes the salary itself is not the main reason for “the suitcases”. Unresolved social problems, negative environments, as well as companies that do not follow modern values, force qualified young people to leave good positions. The problem is huge because the state invests in them through the education system, and then the companies themselves invest in each employee. In the end, the “cream” is collected by countries and companies from around the world that have not invested a single penny in them. We are talking to Loreta Todorovska, a young professional and human resources expert, about the way young and highly educated and qualified staff should stay in the country. According to her, the pandemic with KOVID-19 caused major changes, uncertainty and reorganization of the workplace. The IT industry may have done its best thanks to the tools at its disposal and investing in its own people. It can be a great lesson for the whole economy, while the society should start serious reforms as soon as possible.
Factor: What exactly is meant by the term “brain drain” and is this really a big problem for Macedonia?
Todorovska: Brain drain is a global problem, especially for countries like ours that are going through changing, unstable, economic-social and socio-economic challenges that negatively affect the lifestyle of young people. Living in conditions of long transitions, political instability and many unresolved existential issues, young people from school are thinking about temporary or permanent living outside the borders of their homeland. Brain drain as a term refers to highly educated individuals who in search of achieving their dreams of a successful and happy life decide to invest all their knowledge, skills and abilities in companies and economies of other European, overseas countries that have not invested a single penny in their education. In this way, the talented young, experienced workers are lost and disappear from jobs where they will be employed less qualified, less educated or trained without qualifications and competencies that the company is desperately looking for. The brain drain is most pronounced in developing countries such as our Republic of Macedonia.
Factor: What is the main reason for the emigration of young quality and highly trained people abroad?
Todorovska: The main reason for leaving one’s own home, family and friends is the search for greater opportunities for their own professional realization, career advancement according to the principles of fairness, equality and transparency. The expectation of being paid according to the qualities and results of the work engagement is also one of the leading motives for looking for a job abroad. I also know many of my friends of exceptional quality in their profession who left due to disturbed interpersonal relationships in the environment in which they worked as well as advancement in people’s careers due to political reasons, ie due to closeness to the government. The motivation of some is to reach the top in their career advancement, which unfortunately they could not expect in the companies where they worked. Certainly in some cases the job position is not a key factor, often the level of quality of life and the opportunity to get a high quality education that can further open the door to the world.
Factor: Macedonian education is less and less competitive on the world rankings and the prevailing view is that the university degree is just a formality because it does not bring any advantage in terms of quick adaptation to the job and opening career prospects without investing in additional courses, seminars, trainings , practices and skills for finding a better position. What should education reform focus on?
Todorovska: According to all previous researches, reports, analyzes made by foreign institutions and foundations on what is important for young people and why they find it difficult to find employment after finishing high school or obtaining a university degree, express opinions and views on insufficiently acquired knowledge in school that would practically connect them with real life. Many young people say that what they learn in school is extremely useless and worthless in the labor market. This means that many young people when they find jobs have difficulty understanding how things work, how they communicate, how problems are solved, how they learn. If young people are asked in a way that could provide them with real answers, what is it that they are interested in learning and what is what is difficult for them, it would facilitate the decision what kind of reforms our education needs. Perhaps I would allow myself to say that we as a society, as a system, need more reformers, leaders who will have a vision, an understanding of the needs of young people today in the 21st century on whose quality education the future of the homeland will depend. Unfortunately, I think that for real and useful, implementable and successful reforms, a national consensus is needed as to what they should be, for students to be actively involved as creators or co-creators of a new curriculum that will follow world trends and the needs of the economy. The business sector should also be actively involved in creating curricula that teach social skills, emotional literacy and life skills. Introduce a reform in which young people will learn how to start their own business, what is needed for it, what qualifications are required, what competencies, personal financial management and the like.
Factor: When looking at the brain drain from a private sector perspective. Criticism is often located in poor management, poor employee motivation, insufficient opportunities for advancement, and labor exploitation. What should companies do to retain quality staff?
Todorovska: In order to retain young staff, companies should develop a business environment in which the best will want to develop. The time when employers could stick to the old slogan “if you do not want to work, there is someone who wants” is long gone. Today, more and more attention is paid to the brand of the employer, to the values that the organization strives to identify and put into operation, in life, as values that the employee himself should recognize, develop and harmonize with the organization. Values that are ethical, democratic, professional and human. Research has also shown that job seekers will not accept to work for a company with a bad reputation. It is very important for employers to understand the organizational culture, mission and vision, the values they will nurture so that it can then be communicated to employees. Young people should be told clearly and openly what is expected of them, what are their responsibilities, what are the rules, what are the working conditions, rewards, work environment, interpersonal relationships, opportunities for learning and development … Employers should understand the power of the people, that employees are the best ambassadors of the company, the organization. It is useful for young people to be told a success story by employees how
motivation would be greater, as well as faith in the decision to stay in the workplace.
Factor: Certain industries such as the ICT sector are growing rapidly precisely because of staff investment and proper management. Today it is easy to see the new trends in the world, through social networks we are quickly informed about the changes. How many other branches that may not have as many resources can follow the HR trends and what can they offer to their qualified employees to stay here?
Todorovska: Every company is faced with the challenges brought by the technological and now the health crisis with KOVID-19. Every sector, every employee was affected by these major changes on a global scale. One of the most important roles, perhaps the most important, to deal with the uncertainty brought about by changes of this kind is played by the human resources manager who should be the leader in change. He is expected to be aware of the inevitability and impossibility of influencing this kind of change, but that change must occur by accepting reality and answering many questions for which no one has an answer. I came across a very interesting definition of HR managers on the Internet: “A human resources manager is an unofficial psychologist, economist, lawyer, detective, event organizer, etc.” In times of crisis, they have the most responsible, most difficult role in the organization. They should represent the interests of the organization / company at the same time, but at the same time respect the humane aspect of the employee. It is true that in many industries and industries the employment has decreased, some small businesses have closed, but the biggest growth was achieved by the IT companies that had all the necessary resources within reach precisely because of their skills, competencies and knowledge of how to use and apply new knowledge. on a digital platform. HR managers should handle and share accurate information with their employees, communicate it publicly and transparently, inform them in a timely manner about the plan of steps taken, the way the responsibilities will be performed, the career development opportunities, give them clear feedback on which of them completed the task, if not what.