Adrián Zamoro (second on the left) and colleagues. I.Toledo.
In the five years from 1962 to 1966, which were at the height of the great wave of emigration from Spain in that decade, some 790,000 people left the country, not to seek a better future but just a future in other parts of Europe. In another five year period, from January 2008 until the end of 2012, another 400,000 Spaniards will have decided to emigrate to find work. In fact, 2011 was the first year in the century so far in which more people left Spain than came to settle here.
Between the beginning of 2008, when the first signs of what appeared to be a slowing down of the economy occurred, and July 1st this year, 357,418 Spanish people went abroad to work, according to the Electoral Census of Spanish Nationals Resident Abroad (CERA), which registers those over the age of 18 who wish to exercise their right to vote in Spain whilst in other countries. At the beginning of 2008, 1.2 million Spaniards were registered with CERA and the figure has now risen to1.56 million.
With the prospect of unemployment which the Government admits will be over 24 per cent in 2013 and 22 per cent until at least 2016, this new exodus, which the sociologists call 'selective emigration', is expected to rise. “While the situation in Spain doesn't improve, people - especially the young ones - will continue to leave” says Adrián Zamoro, the founding partner of BInternational, a company which puts Spanish workers in touch with possible employers abroad through its web platform. Although Adrián predicts a slight drop in the long term “when things return to how they were five or six years ago”, he believes that the phenomenon of work emigration “will continue indefinitely over time because young people don't have a problem in moving abroad”.
Adrián Zamoro argues that “the present generation has access through their computer to what is happening elsewhere, they have friends in other countries and for 50 euros they can go to spend a weekend anywhere in Europe. They are very open to the idea of working abroad”.
One difference to the situation in the 1960s is that those emigrants went to do manual work; they did not have qualifications or speak other languages, but they were suffering from hunger. The present trend in emigration is an exodus of talent. Those who leave are generally aged between 25 and 35, with no family responsibilities, highly qualified in engineering, science, IT, architecture, economics or health, and able to speak at least one foreign language.
But where do the Spanish go and what work do they find when they decide to leave? “One thing is where they would prefer to go and another thing is where they find a job”, says Adrían Zamoro. “Some would like to go to places like New York, Australia and even Africa, but there is much more work available in central Europe. Germany has a high demand for industrial engineers; the Scandinavians for science and research; and in England, Ireland and France they require professionals for their health sectors”.
The Eures website showed just over 1,313,000 available jobs last week, of which 890,000 were in the UK and Germany. Engineers and computer programmers were most in demand, but also others with fewer qualifications such as chefs, waiters and sales people. More than 227,000 jobseekers from Spain have registered on this European web portal, more than any other nationality. In total, 916,364 people are registered with Eures. By sector, most people are looking for work in administration, economics and law, followed by retail, hotels and restaurants, technology, culture and media, information technology and construction.
Weaknesses and strengths
The founder of BInternational says a lack of languages is the weak point for many Spanish candidates. “Everyone says they speak good English but when you test them it isn't true”. One of their strengths is their friendly character. “We have no problems in working with people of different nationalities. There is less fear of change now, and we adapt very well to other ways of working. People from other countries have more difficulty adapting to working here than Spanish people who go abroad”. He also says that Spanish workers are rated highly abroad. “The engineers are greatly appreciated, because of their academic training, and in France, they are desperate for Spanish doctors and nurses”, he points out.