In a growing "brain drain" problem for the Iranian economy, the Republic's university graduates are increasingly packing their bags for work abroad.
Ali Kermani, a Tehran University engineering student, sent a strong message to the Iranian government when he told the Washington Post, "I have no choice but to leave...there is no hope for us here."
Kermani, like so many young Iranians in his situation, are lining up at foreign embassies for visas to work abroad.
According to an International Monetary Fund report, one in four Iranian college graduates work outside the nation, with Canada, Australia and New Zealand as the top destinations.
The burgeoning high-tech craze worldwide is expected to intensify the crisis, since Iran's Universities graduate many young and capable engineers and computer programmers for whom the demand abroad is particularly strong.
A slowing economy, coupled with dwindling job prospects have caused a majority of Iran's young graduates and mid-career professionals to search for prospects abroad.
Further, the Iranian economy does not appear to be capable of absorbing its graduates. Complaints of young graduates about low domestic salaries and lack of strong job opportunities continue to be the main reasons for their flight from the country.
An average engineer in the country earns a mere $150-$250 a month, which is slightly less than the wages earned by a taxi driver on a monthly basis.
Iran, with two-thirds of its population under the age of 25, has an official unemployment rate of 13 percent, which many experts contend is closer to 20 percent. Tehran's streets are filled with young university graduates who work as taxi drivers and in minimum-wage jobs, as underemployment appears to be the norm in the nation.
But the Iranian government is not oblivious to this swelling predicament, with one senior official asserting, "This is a serious problem that is being debated at the highest levels."
Unemployed and pro-reformist student protests that turned boisterous and violent last summer still weigh on the minds' of government officials, and the government has acknowledged its cognizance of the potential problems associated in large numbers of unemployed youth, and the need to find answers - fast.
At a recent speech, President Khatami noted the urgency of the problem remarking, "Creating jobs for our youth is a top priority." Economists estimate that Khatami and his government will need to create approximately 1 million new jobs per year to "keep in stride" with its new graduates - something they deem possible only through attracting foreign investments.
As Iran struggles with the "brain drain" crisis, its engineers and programers continue to flock to foreign embassies, echoing the sentiments of Engineer Hossein Dashti, who packed his bags and remarked, "This is my last chance...I have to leave."
Whether Iran's incoming Reformist Parliament will answer the call of its young people for increased and improved job opportunities remains to be seen. - (Albawaba-MEBG)
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )