Young, Educated Icelanders Leaving The Country - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Young, Educated Icelanders Leaving The Country

Published November 11, 2015

Photos by
Arpingstone/Wikimedia Commons

Young and educated Icelanders are leaving the country by the thousands, data from Statistics Iceland shows.

MBL reports that 3,210 Icelanders emigrated from the country during the first nine months of this year alone, exceeding the number of Icelanders moving back by 1,130. This has been continuing even after the bank crash and subsequent continued economic recovery, Statistics Iceland finds.

The vast majority of emigrating Icelanders are young and university educated. This has raised questions about why this is occurring.

Ásgeir Jónsson, an associate professor of economics at the University of Iceland, believes that part of the reason for the emigration is that the economic recovery is not returning results to new graduates in a satisfactory manner.

Karl Sigurðsson, a specialist at the Directorate of Labour, also believes this to be the case. He points to a troubling increase in university-educated Icelanders on the unemployment roles, as they cannot find jobs for their chosen fields in this country. They must therefore look elsewhere in the world to work in jobs they studied for.

It has been noted that while the ruling Progressive Party places special emphasis on heavy industry as a job-building opportunity, young people do not want to work in heavy industry. Þorsteinn Sæmundsson, an MP for the Progressive Party, defended his idea of a new fertilizer plant to Vísir, contending that while the flight of young and educated Icelanders from the country was “worrying”, that heavy industry is still a perfectly viable opportunity for them, contending that “30% to 40% of those who work in such a plant are university educated”.

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