Lola Sánchez, 30, works as an au pair in London. SUR
Young people between the ages of 25 and 35 who have university degrees and speak other languages, but have no chance of finding work related to their training in this country and who have little or no work experience. This is the profile of the new emigrants, according to Teresa Rubio, the director of the Randstad temporary employment agency.
This is a very different picture from the people from Malaga who went to work abroad in the 1960s and 1970s, following the call from the then Federal Republic of Germany, France and Belgium for people to take up the hardest and worst-paid jobs as cheap manual labour.
Between one emigration and another there are many differences, but also similarities. Before, those who left were fleeing misery. Now, it is a lack of opportunities that is causing many young people to leave Spain.
The most surprising thing is that the exodus of people from Malaga that began in 2009 is already greater than in the first years of emigration in the 1960s. Between January 2009 and the same month this year, 12,347 people from Malaga have gone abroad to find a job, according to the Register of Spanish Nationals Resident Abroad (PERE).
This is 3,600 more than the 8,645 who left between 1964 and 1967, according to data from the Spanish Institute of Emigration (IEE). However, experts say that demographic changes should be borne in mind - the province has a larger population now - and these statistics do not include many people who travelled out of choice half a century ago, or those who have not registered at the Spanish consulates in their new country today.
One of the authors of the ‘History of the Spanish Emigration Institute’ and professor of Contemporary History at the Complutense University in Madrid, Carlos Sanz, explains what the emigration from Spain in the Franco era was like. “Most of them were casual workers who could barely read and write. From one day to the next, they left their villages for a change of country, culture, language and currency, and they discovered big modern cities where they found more freedom”, he says.
Nowadays, the young people of Malaga are much more used to travelling and they already know other countries and can speak languages in a world which is increasingly more globalised. The simple fact that a passport is not needed to enter other countries of the European Union, and that the countries share the same currency, is a major change.
Fifty years ago, the IEE –whose office in Malaga was in Avenida Manuel Agustín Heredia– was responsible for arranging jobs and travel abroad for Spanish people, through bilateral agreements with other countries. That doesn’t happen now. There have only been campaigns such as that by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to attract Spanish talents to Gemany or the advertisements for jobs in Canada or Ecuador.
These days, people from Malaga go it alone, although they are well informed, seeking the country in which they believe they will have more options for work, explains Carlos Palomo, an adviser with the EURES network in Malaga.
Switzerland, Germany and France in Europe, and Argentina, Venezuela and Brazil in Latin America were the countries selected by the emigrants of half a century ago. Now, despite Germany’s fame, most of those looking to leave Malaga are going elsewhere, says Carlos Palomo. Argentina, Brazil, the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom are the countries that have received the greatest numbers from Malaga, according to the INE figures. Rocío González of Adecco confirms this trend, and points out that many people choose places where Spanish or English are spoken.
The form of travel has also changed. The previous emigrants spent days on trains heading for Europe or on ships to Latin America or Australia, but today the affordable prices of low-cost airlines make the decision to emigrate easier. This, says Carlos Sanz, has resulted in many young people leaving to try their luck and coming back to Spain when they encounter the first obstacle.
“In the 1960s, families saved for months to buy the tickets for the young people to travel and it would have been seen as a failure if they had returned without fulfilling their plans abroad”, he explains. Now, however, many young people are leaving a comfortable existence in Spain and they have to start from scratch abroad, which means their quality of life is lower in their new destination.
Communicating with the family has also changed. “A letter could take two months to arrive in those days”, says Carlos, whereas today young people can be connected within seconds via the Internet. In fact, the new technologies are an essential part of the luggage of the emigrants of today.
Their predecessors used to carry a cardboard suitcase containing a change of clothes, toiletry items and a letter of good conduct from the parish priest or the governor. Nowadays, they carry laptop computers, tablets and the latest mobile phones in practical bags with wheels.
Alicia Fernández, Secretary for Equality and Training of the UGT in Malaga, says that many young people’s expectations are being frustrated. They have plenty of training, but sometimes they are offered jobs for which they are overqualified and contracts by the hour. “Many are going to Germany and then having to come back because they can’t validate their qualifications and they don’t speak the language”, she says.