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Brain Drain: Is Serbia Affected?

BELGRADE, SERBIA –

Second-year college student Jelisaveta Zubac does not believe the Serbian government is doing enough to ensure young adults’ success. 

“You have to build yourself up,” she said. “There’s not much help.”

Zubac is not alone in her sentiments. English student Tijana Jovic said she feels young people are not respected or valued. 

As a result, both Zubac and Jovic said they want to move to another country following graduation.

This phenomenon of highly-educated young people leaving their home countries is known as brain drain. According to a report from the National Youth Council of Serbia, 50% of people ages 15 to 30 plan on moving out of the country.

Baron Lobstein, U.S. Embassy Belgrade chief economics officer, said brain drain can be attributed to the high levels of dissatisfaction among younger demographics. While there are many contributing factors, political support of the ruling party is at the forefront of the issue. 

“Not everybody agrees with the current party in power, and not everybody wants to be a member,” he said. “They don’t want their political preferences … to determine whether they get a job.” 

Additionally, Zubac said good connections are everything. 

Zubac wants to go into digital marketing and advertising. However, she said there simply are not many entry-level jobs available in that field.

To make it even more difficult, she said digital marketing is not as well-respected as traditional professions like law and medicine. 

“[Older generations] don’t understand,” Zubac said. “Digital marketing is still a questionable profession.”

Zubac said she plans on going to Hungary or the Czech Republic to pursue a master’s degree in the future. Eventually, she wants to return home and help create change for those who come after her. 

“You kind of expect older people from older generations to leave a better place than they found it,” she said.   

To encourage young adults like Zubac to stay, Lobstein said the U.S. Embassy is trying to assist the Serbian government to grow its economy and join the European Union. 

He said the ultimate goal is to improve Serbia’s environment and its economy so that people want to stay and make their lives there. 

“We would like to see it be easier for people to start a business in Serbia and for workers to be treated fairly … for them to have access to internationally protected worker protections,” he said. 

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