Tim wrote:...I have two young Greek friends who both now live and work in Newcastle and have no intention of returning any time soon. BUT, they both have degrees from Athens University. I doubt whether many of the mass of Cretan youth are in that position.
The National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, which is what most people refer to as the University of Athens, is certainly the top ranked university in Greece and is ranked around 219th in the world from 12,000 universities but it is not the only highly rated university in Greece. The National Technical University of Athens, often called the Athens Polytechnic where the student uprising against the Junta started, is ranked third in Greece but it specialises mainly in engineering and natural sciences and perhaps ranks above Athens University in these subjects, which are arguably in greater demand. The Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki is also ranked highly in the fields of engineering and science as is the smaller University of Ioannina. I don't know the total number of students at these top universities but the University of Athens alone is one of the largest universities by enrolment in Europe, with over 100,000 registered students, and I would imagine combining that with the others would double or treble that number. There seems to be quite a lot of scope for Crete's youth to get a top class university education if they are good enough. If they aren't, obviously they wont. There isn't much chance in the UK of the mass of UK youth going to Oxbridge.
There have been many times of crisis in Greece's recent history and they have all resulted in an exit of the best educated youth. There is always a steady exit because, even in good times, Greece offers little opportunity to its brightest but crises amplify the flow. They go to virtually every country in the world. English speaking countries figure highly, because virtually all bright students learn English, but countries like Scandinavia, where English is pretty much universally spoken, are also popular. Many learn other languages as well as English so they tend to have a wider choice.
I think the future is bleak for a very wide range of countries following COVID but Greece overall will certainly be badly affected and, because of the financial crisis, is less resilient. Crete is a very long way from being the worst affected region of Greece but it will certainly suffer.
I can't see any country like Greece recovering by trying to expand manufacturing but I am not sure what sectors they could expand.