Thousands of Iranian graduates flee abroad in search of fortune
by Hosein Alizade

Iran’s social and economic conditions prevent new graduates from finding employment in their area of expertise. Between 150,000 and 180,000 leave the country every year. The educated are losing confidence. Government aid plans have failed so far to stop the flight, damaging an already weak economy.


Tehran (AsiaNews) – Tens of thousands of young Iranians continue to seek their fortune abroad.

Iran produces legions of graduates ready to work or start a business in their field of expertise, but cannot because of the country’s social and economic conditions.

This situation has worsened in recent years due to international sanctions over the government’s nuclear programme and the devaluation of Iran’s currency.

According to academic sources, about 150,000 and 180,000 highly educated young people leave Iran on average every year to live and work abroad, especially in countries like Canada. This is the second highest brain drain in the world.

According to official statistics, these migrants include the country’s best and brightest graduates, artists and sports people. In terms of potential income, Iran’s brain drain is equal to total oil revenues.

Mehran, an electronic engineer who hopes to find work in Germany, told AsiaNews that he has been looking for work in his field for more than two years. "I love my country, but if I stay in this situation, I will lose confidence in myself and hope for the future.”

The Iranian government has tried to stop the flight abroad of young people with a plan of incentives. It grants loans to new graduates and privileges – such as the right to register a start-up – to people who have shown excellent technical skills. However, so far, its programmes have failed.

Saeed, a 28-year-old biotechnology engineer who signed up for a loan, said that he has been trying to get it for nearly a year and a half.

He wanted to set up a start-up for cell experiment equipment, but due to the lack of intermediaries in the right office, he was unable to compete with other applicants, and eventually withdrew.

For experts, serious planning is required to make full use of the country’s huge pool of specialists.

They warn that if the government fails to deliver effective programmes to reduce the brain drain, the country will find itself without skilled labour within a few years. This will deliver another major blow to Iran’s already weakened economy.