Spain’s Lost Generation: Lost or Lacking?

arrowToday, nearly half of Spain’s young people have no jobs. Many have packed their bags and turned their face to the promising lands of Northern Europe.As the inflow continues to rise, with large vacancy in its employment market, Germany has increasingly become the ‘hot spot’ for Spanish job seekers.In fact, last year the amount of Spanish citizens living in Germany showed a 4.5% increase. On the other hand, young Spaniards are now facing new challenges and have been hit once again. This time it is not the crisis but the language barrier. So, in this case, is departure the real solution? Or better yet, do we really know how to cope with the crisis?

Luis Moreno Gonzalez, 26, is one of the young Spaniards who left Spain to seek a possible job opportunity in Germany. ‘’I can’t earn my life through air here in Spain, I need a job’’he says.Although he gained a degree in electronic and automotive engineering, Gonzalez is now earning some cash through distributing flyers in the streets of Berlin. ‘You are not required to know German to hand out flyers’ he adds.  Gonzalez is only one of his peers that has been tripped up by the language barrier. However, he is trying to overcome this by studying it by himself in order to find a long term job.  ‘‘It is less likely to get a good job here if you don’t know German.  Until I am able to practice my own profession, I hope to manage to live here in dignity with my savings for a while‘’ he says.

Rose Gomez, 32, photojournalist, also moved to Germany to start all over again without having any knowledge of German.  She luckily got a job offer in Germany, however, she is not practicing her profession either.  Now, she is babysitting  in Berlin. She calls her situation  ‘’Suffering the consequences of lack of language’’. However she has to move on her life. ‘’I don’t know anyone here, I have literally started from zero.  But, I got a job offer. So why not try?’’she says.

The brain drain of Spaniards came to a deadlock due to language. As long as they want to practice their own profession, a big step for the change has to be taken. ‘ There is a significant immigration, however language is a big handicap.  To be frank, mobility is still only 3%.  It is not big. Again, the language handicap.’ says Gloria De Luis Acevedo, Eures Adviser in the Madrid Office.  She has been advising Spanish students and graduates for twelve years and has a vast knowledge of the challenges today’s young people are facing while applying to a job abroad.  ‘’1.5 years ago, no one would like to go abroad. Now, we receive more applications. However, mobility is not the only solution.  The mentality of Spaniards has to change more’’ she notes.  Countries like Germany, Netherlands, UK with a big vacancy in the labor market demand a qualified work force, but the language seems to be the larger obstacle for them to practice their own profession. ‘‘We receive many demands, especially from companies in Germany, for the recruitment of engineers, IT specialists, and mechanics from Spain. They offer language courses and training for them’’ she adds.

 Launched as one of the actions in Europe 2020 Flagship Initiatives, ‘Youth On the Move’ and ‘Youth Opportunities Initiatives’, Eures’  target for 2012-2013 is to help 5,000 people to fill jobs in any EU country, other than their country of residence.

EURES’ support is from the national employment services, which includes information, job search assistance, recruitment and funding for both young job seekers and companies which are interested in recruitment of people outside of their country.

As a result of a growing demand and reaction to the language handicap and helping the skilled young workers to get more qualification to practice their own profession, the Federal Government Agency also launched a two year special program called‘Promotion of Vocational Mobility of Young People Interested in Vocational Training and of Unemployed Young Professionals from Europe’. The Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs will allocate up to 40 million euro per year to this program. Starting in January 2013, it is aimed at young adults aged between 18 and 35 from EU member states who wish to take learn German, take a job or start vocational training in Germany. The applicants will have the opportunity to get vouchers for language courses either in their hometown or in Germany. This way, skilled young people will have a better chance to practise their own profession abroad while companies cover up their shortage of skilled labour.

Another call is from Eurodysee.They offer a 3 to 7 month exchange program between European regions for young people aged between 18-30. Starting from this month, there are many available positions for job seekers from armed forces occupations to managerial jobs. This way, young people are encouraged to obtain professional business experience and opportunity while adapting socially, culturally and linguistically.

Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs, Youth in Action and many more mobility actions and programmes are co-financed by the European Commission this year.

So is the immigration the right choice for the Spaniards to break out of the depths of the crisis? There is no doubt that more opportunities are awaiting them away from home.However, lack of language skills prevents these qualified Spaniards not even practicing their profession but improving the quality of their lives abroad.

In fact, even the rise of programs supported by EU Commission in 2013 points out the necessity of a change for the betterment of the job seekers. If they improve their language, they don’t need to be unemployed, don’t need to be lost. Spaniards now should pay attention to this call and  break the ice to open themselves up to other languages.  As long as they do not change their  path, they seem to be going down a rocky road over the course of  crisis in the coming years.


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