Young Spaniards forced to emigrate

The 2012/03/15 at 06:40
Valérie Demon, à Madrid

Over 300,000 persons have left Spain since the start of the crisis.

María heaves a sigh. Her 33-year-old son, an economics graduate, had to leave Spain to find work. True, he didn’t go far, to London. “But he didn’t have a choice, he’d worked for three years, then went through one and a half years of unemployment. It was in Madrid that he found a job in a services company, but on one condition: that he leave for the subsidiary in London,” tells this mother. Her son is amongst the thousands of young Spaniards now forced to pack up their bags to find work. The youngest of these are seeking to escape from a harsh statistic: practically 50% of under-25s are unemployed. It’s difficult to tally up the number of departures. According to the electoral lists of Spaniards residing overseas, another 307,900 persons signed up between the start of 2008 and December 2011. This translates as over 300,000 persons gone to look for work or to accompany someone in this position.


While it remains impossible to ascertain how many young people have left, a page has been turned. One trend has clearly turned around since the start of the crisis: for the first time in the last ten years, the migratory balance was negative in 2011. Cristina Bermejo, Youth Secretary of the Comisiones Obreras trade union, doesn’t like the term “brain drain”. “I prefer the term emigration. Before the crisis, many young researchers were already leaving; now the movement has expanded to other sectors. We have noticed that young students going through vocational training are also looking to leave even if this remains more complicated because of language problems.”


According to an Adecco survey, it is basically young people aged between 25 and 35 years without family responsibilities, highly qualified, who decide to emigrate. Scientists, engineers, computer technicians and architects are amongst the candidates to leave. Argentina is welcoming the highest numbers of Spaniards, followed by France, Venezuela and Germany. Language schools in Spain have met with a boom in enrolments, for example the Goethe Institute in Madrid with a 20% rise in requests last year. But the path to travel for these young hopefuls is long. 14,000 persons applied for jobs in Germany, according to the Spanish-German Chamber of Commerce.


But only 20% are said to meet the needs of employers. For the moment, the wave of young Spaniards is still limited in Germany, as other countries remain attractive. Adecco, for example, deals with a number of overseas offers, towards the Czech Republic seeking engineers for the automobile industry, or else France looking for physiotherapists and nurses. Yet the crisis is not only driving away young people with a high level of qualifications. Older and less qualified members of the population are not hesitating to step out, sometimes even without English language skills. Several hundreds of little-trained Spaniards have thus tried their luck in Bergen, Norway. In vain, in most cases.

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