Business Roundtable Portugal comes up with measures to stem brain drain

 In Business associations, Companies, Labour, News

The Business Roundtable Portugal Association has called on companies to stem the tide of talent flight from the country as more and more young professionals seek better-paid jobs and career progression opportunities overseas.

According to its figures, Portugal is facing a “demographic nightmare” as 26% of the population is now living overseas.

One-third of Portuguese aged between 15 and 39 are working abroad or 850,000, contributing towards a “demographic recession”.

And the BRP says that Portugal has lost over 160,000 graduates over the past decade, while taxes on families with two children are above the OECD average, at 55% in Portugal.

The business association says that Portugal has lost a generation of its most qualified youth with all that implies on stymying Portugal’s national wealth and the growth of the country.

Using the knowledge and experience that the BRP Portugal’s 40 members has collectively built up, the association has come up with specific mustard-cutting proposals in five areas: Culture, Organisation, Agile Organisations, Leadership, Careers and Benefits, Lower Taxes and Higher Wages

The proposals were presented at an event this week to 200 company leaders aimed at attracting talent, some of which have already been successfully tested and implemented; measures to create more, better and fulfilling career opportunities in Portugal.

Through this initiative, the BRP Association hopes to initiate a change that depends on companies as a way of helping the talent flight that continues to undermine the country, and to try and persuade those who have emigrated overseas to return.

The association’s recommendations have been published, and is the result of a joint effort from the 22 companies that make up the BRP and around 36 specialists in leadership and talent management.

A high level of emigration

For decades Portugal has been a country with a high rate of emigration, which has resulted in around 2.6 million Portuguese living overseas in countries like France, UK, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, United States and many others. (26% of the resident population).

Around 70% (850,000) are young people of working age between 15 and 39, meaning that 1/3 of those born in Portugal currently live abroad, and therefore are not making an economic contribution to the country.

The association says that despite the last five decades of democracy in Portugal having brought enormous development at an educational level, Portugal is not harnessing all of this potential in the active population. Over the past decade, 370,000 graduates or those with higher education diplomas joined the workforce, but could have been 530,000 – because 160,000 left Portugal.

“At a time when the country has the most qualified generations ever, I has become evident that we are not managing to attract and retain talent and turn that potential into wealth. The comparison of our labour market and our companies shows the need for change.

“Companies have a relevant role in changing this situation, but it is absolutely essential to develop and match public policies to Portugal’s needs. Without a happy and fulfilled workforce, we won’t have successful companies, or a more competitive, fairer and sustainable country,” says Vasco de Mello, President of the BRP Association.

“In the past, companies showed that they could be the initiators and drivers for change and that Portugal’s large companies should be the first to seize the initiative and drive this change that we all depend upon.

“This means having a better understanding of the new generations and what is changing, and adopt new organisational structures, new forms of managing talent and valuing it, and making this talent feel that they don’t have to go overseas to fulfil their dreams”, he concluded.

Nuno Amado, who headed the working group into the report and recommendations, and is a BRP board member, points to Portugal’s falling birth rate, a trend which was only stemmed in 2022 when 83,000 babies were born because of overseas immigration into Portugal.

“This demographic nightmare has got worse over the years, bringing more challenges to Portugal, and in particular companies. We believe that the only way to turn this trend around is to make Portugal economically and socially more developed through new public policies and best company practices.

“Only that way will it be possible to create better conditions to attract talent, through a richer professional experience, better salaries, increasing purchasing power and lower taxes.”