Reversing Ukraine’s Brain Drain

Dec 18th, 2012 | By | Category: Canada, Education, In Depth, Ukraine

by Walter Derzko

2011_11_1-2011_11_1_6_57_49Ukraine is not a great place for recent university graduates looking for work in their chosen career fields.

A recent survey (survey source not cited) revealed that almost all highly qualified young Ukrainian professionals have considered or are in the planning stages of emigrating overseas in search of work, says a British web site, Emigrate UK.

“Over 5,000 young professionals took part in the November survey, with 91 per cent of responders admitting a desire to emigrate in order to further their careers. The average age of those surveyed was 30 years, with 77 per cent having completed a university education and two per cent gaining masters’ degrees in their chosen subject. “

The majority of those surveyed worked in the financial, technical and humanitarian sectors, and gave Ukraine ’s economic and political problems as their main reasons for leaving the country. Most stated that they saw no future for themselves or their families due to the country’s low wage structure, lack of career advancement opportunities and unstable political situation.

Only four per cent stated they would stay in the Ukraine , citing the possibility of being treated as second class in a new country as the main reason for their reluctance to leave.”

The country’s former Minister for Economy, Volodymyr Lanovy, agrees that the resent unemployment situation is encouraging highly skilled young people to consider leaving. He believes the creation of small and medium sized enterprises SMEs at all levels would help the situation, giving self-employment opportunities supported by initial tax relief and government start-up grants to young, unemployed professionals, especially in the high-tech field.” ( see )

Current job holders appear to be just as discontent as recent graduates. Only one in six Ukrainians are happy with their jobs, according to a Headhunters study. (Source: Kyiv Post Employment Fair helps boost job prospects)

One recent initiative that could stem the tide in the brain drain in Ukraine is called Bionic Hill Innovation Park and its satellite Bionic University. The project concept – a large-scale technology park for high technology startup clusters focusing on information technologies, biotech and pharmaceuticals, energy efficient and clean energy technologies along with an adjacent university was presented at the recent Canada Ukraine Chamber of Commerce, Business to Business Forum in Toronto by Dr Victor Galasyuk. (see )

The plan is to build the innovation park in three stages using the experience of the same architects that designed some of the new buildings on the Stanford University Campus. BONIC Hill Phase I is expected to be completed in 2014 and includes office space, residential housing and basic social infrastructure. The implementation of Live, Work, Learn, and Play concept will practically mean the creation of a small city, which will include office premises, R&D facilities, hi-tech production, a university with dormitories, a hotel with conference halls, food courts, residential housing, schools and kindergartens, a fitness center and other sports facilities, a recreational area, etc.

It will be located in Kyiv on about 147 Hectares of picturesque green space, less than 30 minutes drive from downtown.

Thanks to the environment the project will ensure, talented young people will not have to compromise between work, comfortable living and proper education for their children and themselves.

Dr Serhiy Kvit, President of the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy (NaUKMA), in an exclusive interview with the Strategic Foresight Institute (SFi) said that in order to reverse the brain drain in Ukraine, NaUKMA has partnered with Bionic Hill and Bionic University to offer courses to upgrade the qualifications of IT professionals. The first cohort of students are already studying in the newly renovated building of the Bratskoho Monestary (Братських келій) in the NaUKMA campus in Kyiv. (see )

Marta Farion from Chicago adds: “The project is unique in many ways, but one of them is the fact that this is the first collaboration of public, private and academic spheres-the city of Kyiv Administration, UDP – a leading Ukrainian real-estate developer, and Kyiv Mohyla Academy. Mohylianka will be training specialists in innovation and IT communications, but also through its business school preparing executives and managers for companies that will house their headquarters or offices at the Bionic Hill campus. Oleksandr Popov, head of Kyiv City Administration, spoke in Washington recently about the brain drain and his interest in supporting conditions to help start ups in innovation find reasonably priced space, and attract suppliers, investors, financial institutions to make loans to entrepreneurs. “

“Victor Galasyuk PhD (First VP of Bionic Hill) is a young man in his 30s, speaks excellent English, understands the issues and with the right backing, he can make this happen. It won’t happen overnight, but it is a step in the right direction. It’s a very ambitious project and I hope it will be successful. It can be a showcase for Ukraine.” says Farion with confidence.

Walter Derzko is the executive director of the Strategic Foresight Institute (SFi) in Toronto

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