Brain drain hits Poland hard.

The recently published “Global Talent Flows” research paper from the World Bank indicates that Poland is of the top countries with outbound migration flow when it comes to people over 15 years of age with at least one year of higher education.

Among the most popular destinations for emigrants from Poland are the places where there is already considerable Polish diaspora, i.e. the UK, Germany, Norway and Sweden.

Poland has a high rate of young people with a higher education degree. Young people are also the ones who are most likely to leave the country. Many of them declare they would like to emigrate abroad in search of better jobs.

Brain drain, an exodus of professionals, is a big challenge for Polish economy. The country is likely to experience a shortage of qualified workers soon. The first signs are already visible. Polish companies are starting to have difficulties in recruiting qualified staff.

Unemployment rate is Poland is on record low levels. The last time the unemployment rate was below 10% was over 20 years ago. This is good for those looking for a job or a change in career, but is bad for entrepreneurs who intend to expand operations.

Negative demographic trends do not make things easier. The working-age population is shrinking, while the percentage of population who are retired keeps growing year after year. Baby boomers born in the 1950s are getting old.

The imbalance between the working population and others is dangerous to the pension system. In theory, pension contributions of the employed finance pensions of those who no longer work. In practice, more and more public funding is needed to prevent the system from collapsing.

Emigration adds to the problem. In the first decade of 2000s, the number of migrants from Poland grew by over 100 percent. This was possible by Poland jointing the EU.

The ruling Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice) party is hoping to boost demographic growth by child benefits for parents with two or more children.

Another option is opening the country’s borders to immigrant workers. Today, the largest group of immigrants in Poland are Ukrainians. However, Polish people generally have very negative views of immigrants and immigration. Inviting foreign workers may bring in a host of new social problems.

Still, if the brain drain continues (and there are no signs suggesting otherwise), there may be no other choice.