Cyprus Mail

Message to underemployed graduates: get out of Cyprus

The article “Welcome to the gig economy” (Sunday Mail, August 4) raises some interesting questions regarding the attitude of Cypriot nationals who are university graduates and those Cypriots intending to attend university.

I imagine that the numbers of Cypriots going on to higher education has grown over the years, and the likelihood is that their numbers have completely outstripped the ability of the very small Cyprus economy to provide many with adequate employment and serious careers.

Regardless, the overriding question for those without meaningful employment and, more importantly, a secure future is simply: “What in God’s name are you doing on this small island, when there is a very big wide world out there to be explored and conquered?”

If an intended university student insists on only working in Cyprus after graduation, then surely common sense dictates that he/she should research what university degrees will provide the best opportunities for that to come about and realise that there is a (very) high risk of no employment in the end?

Those graduating from UK or US universities with good degrees must have an excellent command of English, so the chances of finding meaningful work and careers outside Cyprus must be quite high. Cyprus is both a member of the EU and the British Commonwealth, thus affording Cypriots excellent opportunities for overseas employment which should be researched and eagerly grasped with both hands.

A Cypriot physician (who is well qualified through training in both the UK and the USA) once told me that you can take a Cypriot out of Cyprus, but you cannot take Cyprus out of a Cypriot. Fair enough, but a well qualified Cypriot with extensive overseas experience slotting into, say, a niche in the Cyprus medical world is a quite different cup of tea to a young graduate with a 2:1 in political science trying to find meaningful employment in Cyprus.

The Russell Group consists of some 24 UK universities with a number of prestigious members, so with her excellent 2:1 degree, what is Emilia Neophytou doing working only 4 hours a day in Cyprus, when almost certainly she could be fully and meaningfully employed elsewhere in the world?

Does she, and other similar graduates, miss being with mum and dad, or the interminable frappes, sea bass and  souvlaki? If so, what was the purpose behind going to university in the first place?

Five years ago I was asked to briefly speak at the launch of a very good book on the state of Cyprus. My advice to the young back then is the same now: Get out of here!

Brian Lait

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