Spaniards seek El Do­rado in Ger­many

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

BERLIN — Ger­many’s solid job mar­ket has at­tracted tens of thou­sands of southern Euro­peans seek­ing an El Do­rado while cri­sis stran­gles their home economies, but few view Europe’s big­gest econ­omy as a per­ma­nent home.

As Spain, Por­tu­gal and Greece plunged into deep re­ces­sion in the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2008, un­em­ploy­ment rates urged, reach­ing 50 per­cent among the youth in Spain and Greece.

Faced with a glut of un­filled jobs in Ger­many, where the econ­omy is boom­ing and the work­ing pop­u­la­tion is ag­ing, Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel in 2011 launched a call for young Spaniards to seek em­ploy­ment here.

In 2013, Berlin and Madrid signed a deal re­serv­ing 5,000 ap­pren­tice­ship spots and full­time posts for Span­ish school­leavers.

Be­tween 2008 and 2015, more than 47,000 Spaniards and 27,500 Greeks aged 18 to 25 ar­rived in Ger­many seek­ing work, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures from Ger­many’s sta­tis­tics of­fice Des­tatis.

But sev­eral years on, the im­mi­gra­tion trend ap­pears to be in­vers­ing.

The num­ber of young Spaniards who have left Ger­many soared from 2,800 in 2012 to 4,300 in 2015, ac­cord­ing to Des­tatis, as their home econ­omy started to re­cover.

Al­bert del Bar­rio from Va­len­cia was among those who ben­e­fited from Ger­many’s wel­come.

Af­ter a year’s ex­change pro­gram at a Prague univer­sity where he met his Ital­ian girl­friend, he de­cided to move to Berlin, where “we can speak English” in his sec­tor, he told AFP.

He found work quickly in a startup for smart­phone in­dus­try mar­ket­ing. “Clearly there are many more job op­por­tu­ni­ties in Ger­many,” he said.

Some 600 kilo­me­ters to the south of Berlin, an­other Span­ish na­tional, 31-year-old Jose Ra­mon Aven­dano Fuentes is in an ap­pren­tice­ship at an elec­tric­ity firm.

The idea of try­ing his luck in Ger­many came from his em­ploy­ment agency in Alba- cete in 2014, af­ter he failed to land a job at home.

“They told me that it’s pos­si­ble to find a job in Ger­many where they re­ally need peo­ple,” he said in halt­ing Ger­man.

Since then, Fuentes has man­aged to in­te­grate into life in Tachert­ing, a small south­east­ern vil­lage with 5,000 peo­ple lo­cated close to the Aus­trian bor­der.

He now plays in a lo­cal orches­tra and has no qualms about walk­ing around in tra­di­tional Bavar­ian men’s wear — leder­ho­sen. “I have about 500 col­leagues, most of them are great,” he said.

But oth­ers feel less wel­come and are re­turn­ing to their home coun­tries, dis­il­lu­sioned af­ter strug­gling to set­tle in Ger­many, where they some­times find them­selves with pre­car­i­ous con­tracts.

Although the Span­ish econ­omy has been re­cov­er­ing, with growth ex­pected to reach 3.1 per­cent this year, del Bar­rio ac­knowl­edged that the re­cov­ery re­mains frag­ile.

They told me that it’s pos­si­ble to find a job in Ger­many where they re­ally need peo­ple.”

Jose Ra­mon Aven­dano Fuentes, a 31-year-old Span­ish ap­pren­tice­ship at an elec­tric­ity firm in Ger­many aged 18 to 25 ar­rvied Gern­many for jobs from 2008 to 2015

DUSTIN FRANZ/ AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Sets of twins and mul­ti­ples wait for a group photo to be taken dur­ing the Twins Days Fes­ti­val in Twins­burg, Ohio, on Satur­day. The Twins Days Fes­ti­val is the world’s largest gath­er­ing of twins and mul­ti­ples.

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