Experts are warning about dire consequences of emigration of skilled workforce, but Iran’s vice-president claims there is no cause for worry.
In an interview with a publication affiliated with Sharif University of Technology, where he serves as a professor, Vice-President for Science, Technology, and Knowledge-Based Economy, Rouhollah Dehghani-Firouzabadi, attributed the apparent increase in the emigration of entrepreneurs and the workforce to the protests of the past year and the disruptions caused by the two-year-long Covid-19 pandemic, which impacted the usual procedures for immigrant acceptance.
He justified his assertion by stating, “If, in previous years, 100 people left, the current figure is 200 people. How many experts do we have? Let’s say 2,000.”
For those who have lost hope of prospects of positive change in the country, especially among the younger generation representing various backgrounds, emigration appears as the sole avenue toward a more promising life. A recent telephone poll by the US-based Statis Consulting revealed that nearly half of Iranian youth aspire to leave the country, driven by a prevailing sense of pessimism regarding their future in the homeland.
In an article last week, EcoIran, an economic news website, highlighted that the emigration of the workforce is no longer confined to physical relocation.The surge in virtual citizenship and remote work, particularly during and after the pandemic, has contributed to a substantial increase in digital emigration among Iranians. This shift has led to the migration of the activities of creative and expert workforce to international businesses,” the article said while warning that the growing desire to emigrate serves as an ‘alarm bell’ that has been ringing for several years, yet remains largely unheeded.”
“I’m warning that Iranian entrepreneurs and investors are redirecting their production towards neighboring countries that offer stability,” Pedram Soltani, an entrepreneur and former deputy chairman of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, said in October in a tweet on the occasion of the National Export Day while also warning that factories either face the challenges of aging infrastructure and deterioration or continue to operate due to monopolistic control over the domestic market.
“Instability, uncertainties across political and social realms, a lack of a promising outlook for the future, high production risks, ad hoc legislation, and a complex and challenging business environment are cited by experts as some of the primary factors driving the migration of skilled labor from the country,” Mahmood Olyaiy (Olyaei), an official of Iran’s Chamber of Commerce, told the reformist Ham-Mihan newspaper.
He emphasized that warnings to the government regarding the issues stemming from the emigration of skilled workforce have been ignored and there is a lack of clear policies to avert the potential consequences in the coming years.
Olyaiy added that “self-sanctioning and lack of transparency” cause reluctance in the business environment.
In a speech in September, former President Hassan Rouhani criticized the harsh treatment of the intellectual elite, alleging that some within the government are content that they were leaving the country. “They say let them go so others [who support the hardline government] can take their place,” he said.
In its 2022 report published ten months ago, Iran Migration Observatory (IMO) stated that Iran ranked 17th among countries with the highest number of individuals seeking education abroad and 54th among those with the highest emigration rates.”
The IMO, a research institute established during Rouhani’s second presidential term at Sharif University of Technology, tracks data and generates analyses on emigration, with a particular focus on informing policymakers. The IMO released the inaugural edition of the Iran Migration Outlook, providing comprehensive data on Iranian migrants globally, international students, and those seeking asylum.