The emigration of young people from Croatia in search of better business opportunities and living standards, unfortunately, is a well-known story. Each of us young people in Croatia knows at least a few people from their environment who, at one point, said that enough was enough and decided to seek happiness somewhere abroad.
According to official Eurostat data, from 2015 to 2019, Croatia’s population decreased by 4.26 inhabitants per 1,000 citizens only thanks to emigration. Therefore, the Croatian emigration rate is the second-worst in the European Union (after Lithuania).
These data indicate that economic prosperity influences population decisions to emigrate. Besides, due to the exodus of the young and working population, there is an additional reduction in GDP per capita that closes the cycle of poverty and decline in Croatia.
However, there are many who are aware of the poor position of young people in Croatia, but still do not want to give up and decide to stay in Croatia. We’re wondering what do those young people, recent graduates, think about this whole situation and what are their reasons for staying in Croatia.
We begin our series on the Adriatic coast, with Karla in Split.
First of all, please introduce yourself. What are you studying/what did you study? Do you have a job currently?
I’m Karla, and I have a Masters degree in journalism. I live in Split, where I’m originally from. Last year I came back from Zagreb where I had been studying for five years. I’m currently unemployed.
What is it like being a student/recent graduate in Croatia during this coronavirus time?
I honestly don’t know which is worse – being a student or completing one’s studies during the coronavirus time. In any case, a lot of pressure is in the air, in terms of our own existence, but also the desired career.
What are your experiences searching for a job in your profession in Croatia?
I honestly think that the ones who want to work can, but the question is what kind of work? If you want to do anything, for a low salary, all Croatian companies’ doors are open to you. But if you want to do what you specialize in or something you love, you will have to wait. At least until this coronavirus crisis is over.
What do you think of the Croatian Government’s efforts to provide opportunities for graduates?
I think that every ambitious citizen has opportunities. But those who have just graduated have to deal with a lack of experience that will certainly not help them under government grants. And the number one experience you must have in Croatia is printing paper or bureaucratic expertise. The Croatian Government has offered support for self-employment and support for employers in the form of youth employment. It would be nice if young people were educated about their own rights and employment opportunities during their college/high school days.
Many young people your age decide to emigrate from Croatia to find a better job opportunity and/or life standard. What do you think about it?
I support such young people. However, I consider leaving Croatia solely for business a defeat. I do not rush exclusively for money, and the standard of living in Croatia, at least in Dalmatia, where in addition to work and college, we still sit for a few hours having coffee, I consider a comfortable life and luxury. We are in a global world, where, if you are capable and creative, you can profit from anywhere. So why replace the sun and the sea with some continental concrete?
In your opinion, what would encourage young people to stay in Croatia?
Stronger support for purchasing real estate by young people, not only for those who have cash or a secure job for years.
Have you ever considered the option to move out from Croatia?
No, I haven’t.
As a recent graduate, what is your impression of the education system in Croatia? What do you think is good about it and what could be better?
We have competent young people who learn a lot during college. But it all stops at the theory stage. Our education would be better if practical experience were always necessary.
Based on your own experience, would you say that everything is possible in Croatia if you work hard, work on yourself, are educated and ambitious?
Hmm, I don’t think the state’s and individual’s characteristics should be so intertwined in one sentence. Yes, I believe it is possible to succeed, but solely because of the characteristics that individual creative minds possess. Ambition and effort alone do not mean much. That is, it means enough that you have a job and how many times you progress in your life. I am ambitious. Almost all my friends are ambitious, but someone just needs to know how to take advantage of the situation, adapt, be different, more unique, and more innovative.
If you could change only one thing in Croatia, what would it be, and why do you think it’s important?
I wouldn’t change anything! I stick to that you can’t change the world – you can only change yourself and your world outlook. I look at Croatia as a combination of sea, mountains, the most delicious food, and tired, complaining, but cheerful and good people.
As a young Croatian, what are you most proud of in Croatia?
I am more than proud of people full of empathy, which is confirmed by numerous humanitarian actions. Just look at the number of donations of each humanitarian action and look at the reactions to crises in Croatia.
Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of Croatia, and will it be a better or worse place for your children?
I am generally pessimistic about the future in which new generations are growing up, the online future. I wish I could say that my kids will know all the games I loved as a child. I know that Croatia still offers villages, various green spaces where children can have a childhood, so I am in some way satisfied. If I had children, I would be happy if they live a little with nature and socialize in a playful, childish way.
Are you a student or recent graduate who would like to contribute your voice and experiences to this series? If yes, please contact [email protected] with the subject “Graduate.”
To read more from series Croatian Graduate Perspective, follow TCN’s dedicated page.